The Paul Ryan Factor

Aquarian Weekly 8/22/12 REALITY CHECK

THE PAUL RYAN FACTOR

Okay, so now we have a 2012 campaign.

The VP pick is an important symbol for where the pre-convention narrative is going for a candidate, especially a challenger. For Barack Obama in 2008, Joe Biden was chosen to connect with the alienated white, working class voters lost in the epic primary battle with Hillary Clinton. For George W. Bush in 2000 it was to calm the noise on his foreign policy naiveté with Dick Cheney.

The choice became an imperative for Mitt Romney, who has thus far conducted a excruciatingly safe run casting himself as an awkward figure, the length and breadth of which appears neither particularly bold in his ideology nor straightforward with his biography, and is certainly vague in his plans to lead should he be chosen come November.

Paul RyanAs documented incessantly here for the past weeks and just about everywhere else, it is becoming increasingly evidentiary, even to those who support him, that Romney had better be about something other than standing as the anti-Obama if he wants to challenge this thing, which has slowly gotten away from him in recent weeks. Despite historically high unemployment numbers for a sitting president to be leading in national polls, and a sense that any incumbent anywhere, be they Republican or Democrat, is vulnerable these days, Romney’s poll numbers have spun their wheels, and his occasional gaffs and the unshakable unfavorable responses to his personality, demeanor and overall presentation put the onus on his choice as running mate.

At age 42 and with a dozen years on Capitol Hill, enter Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan, a wonkish, staunchly conservative numbers-cruncher whose claim to fame is his wholly symbolic hard-line budget proposal that aims to radically reconstruct the level of control instilled in the federal government for nearly a century. What is known as the “Ryan Bill” is so outlandish to most lawmakers that the previous conservative stalwart in congress, former speaker, Newt Gingrich has dubbed it “Right Wing social engineering”. But there is no mistaking that Ryan is a serious politician. Unlike the party’s previous choice for vice president, Sarah Palin, who had trouble with the most rudimentary facts about governance or practically anything, Ryan is a champion of minutia.

However, like Palin, Ryan is a credentials pick. The aim in 2008 for GOP nominee, John McCain was to energize the base and put a dent into the “history making” run of Barack Obama. Ryan represents the same audacious stroke, especially for a candidate whose motus operandi is bland mixed with a healthy dose of blander. Where Romney is a stuff-shirt with no foundation beyond the robotic ambition to seduce victory, Ryan is as right fiscally as can be mustered in Washington. His very name conjures grief on the left while also creating the unintended affect in allowing the president’s re-election team to point directly at what it deems a radical draconian approach that reaches far beyond the incumbent’s more measured proposals; if in fact the president or the Democrats can conjure one.

You see, it has been Ryan’s plan, draconian, radical or genius, that has stood alone in firing the opening shot at what Republicans have used as a sledgehammer for three years; reducing spending and by consequence, the debt, thus reversing its party’s wild spending spree of the century’s first decade and rebuilding a new narrative upon the ashes of the now conveniently ignored Bush Administration. What makes Ryan’s almost religious fervor to curtail spending bizarre is the fact that he voted for shit-loads of unpaid for nonsense when a Republican was in charge, including unfounded tax cuts, two wars, a massive ramp up of federal government security measures, and the disastrous Medicare Modernization Act.

Ryan makes the most sense for the ticket mainly because now the candidate hopes the campaign can shift to clashing ideologies and away from a personality contest, a game in which Romney would have trouble besting a lamppost. gravitas.

Ryan’s convenient hypocrisy aside, for months Romney has argued, “What not try it my way?” on the stump and in his ads, but no one, least of all Romney, has a clue what that way is, allowing the president to paint it as another run on Bush economics. Romney hopes he now has that alternative; the Ryan Plan, which is in effect becomes the Romney Plan.

Something that should not be ignored is Ryan’s connection with his home state and its governor, Scott Walker, which has become the Right’s clarion call to crush unions and slash budgets. This is the mojo Romney lacks; mainly because he is a wind-shifting moderate, whose record as governor of Massachusetts, his only public gig, makes anyone with a dog-eared copy of “The Fountainhead” wretch. Ryan, by comparison, sleeps with a crumpled photo of Ayn Rand under his pillow. Although, once again, when recently pressed by the Catholic League on his Randian worship (fueled as it is by rabid atheism) he tempered what he once stated as a life-affirming philosophy that inspired his embracing of fiscally conservative economics.

So what does the Ryan pick, maybe the boldest move in Romney’s uneven to spectacularly mediocre campaign, say about the candidate to this point?

Firstly, he is worried about his base, which has failed to completely embrace him. This was clearly becoming a distraction again after he was eviscerated by conservative opponents during a nearly one-year primary roll-out, with recent flak over hardcore conservatives failure to coddle him and the deluge of criticism from blogs, radio geeks and even establishment pundits who initially pushed for him over the fringe candidates. For good or ill on the national level and with more moderate independents, Ryan is the poster boy for the Right’s argument for less government, relaxed regulations, and the age-old trickle-down free ride for “job creators” to rescue a feeble economy.

Secondly, Ryan has a personality; combative, unapologetic and recklessly youthful; all the things Romney is not. Although careful not to give too detailed an answer to his no-compromise pitch to privatize Social Security and gut Medicare in the face of his atavistic cow-towing to a continued bloated military budget, Ryan is far more forthcoming about his rather unpopular measures to refigure the Washington landscape than Romney would ever dare.

However, it is hard to see Ryan — a work-machine whose love of the inner workings of legislation trumps his already serious-as-bone-cancer tone — sitting around like Joe Biden whipping off the occasional eructation between ribbon cuttings. He’s Al Gore meets Hillary Clinton meets the bastard son of Dick Cheney. He’s hands-on, pal. Or at least that’s what Mitt Romney wants you to believe. “Don’t trust me? How ’bout this guy, then?”

The brass tax here, beyond rousing the base and designing an air of credibility to a walking haircut, is affecting the electoral map.

There are no signs that Wisconsin is in play for Republicans, unless the GOP hangs its hat on the recent recall failure of the Left to expunge Governor Walker from office after his marauding of state unions. It is a predominantly Democratic state that last voted Republican for president in 1984. Since Ryan is still young and has made his bones on the national level — specifically in hated Washington — it is unlikely he will be an embraceable figure to many independents there.

This is why Ohio Senator Rob Portman would have been the more strategic pick. While Ryan forces the Obama Campaign, which currently trails the money race by a significant margin, to spend treasure and time in Wisconsin, it pales in comparison to the ever-crucial state of Ohio. A razor thin but widening lead for Obama in a state Republicans need (no Republican has claimed the White House without carrying Ohio since Lincoln) would call for the Portman pick. To be blunt, Wisconsin is a gamble with Ryan, while Portman could have conceivably tipped the scale for Romney.

But Ryan makes the most sense for the ticket mainly because now the candidate hopes the campaign can shift to clashing ideologies and away from a personality contest, a game in which Romney would have trouble besting a lamppost. gravitas.

 

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What is Mitt Romney Afraid Of?

Aquarian Weekly 7/25/12 REALITY CHECK

WHAT IS MITT ROMNEY AFRAID OF? GOP Nominee Must Embrace Rich Guy Status

A few weeks ago Rupert Murdoch berated the Romney Campaign for not being “real pros” and later accused the Republican presidential nominee of “playing it safe”. But, of course, playing it safe is Mitt Romney’s mantra; a Mormon sense of stoic privacy and his “holier than thou” attitude served him well against a parade of loonies during the primaries. And anyone who has been around a campaign, no matter how large, knows at this point for the candidate to try and be anything other than what he or she is courts disaster. Good examples are Al Gore trying desperately to pivot into “earth tones” or Michael Dukakis attempting to act tough in a tank. Yet, Murdoch has a point. Romney has been strangely defensive of his financial success, how he achieved his wealth and how he maintains it, and that makes no sense.

Mitt RomneyIt’s as if Romney thinks he can have it both ways; hard sell the private-sector tycoon obviously more qualified to speed up America’s economic recovery with the same bold ideas he instituted in his career and then be evasive on the very practices he’s pitching. This is an uncanny mirror image of 2004 and John Kerry, so far a doppelganger for Romney — bland, rich, out-of-touch New England Ivy Leaguer. Even Kerry tried being photographed in hunting gear to cut into George W. Bush’s “regular guy” routine, as Romney has gone tie-less in jeans standing in front of a variety of macho machinery.

Kerry’s convention speech, laced with military rhetoric, immediately framed his candidacy during an unpopular war and the continued national fear of terrorism as an alternative to a bungling civilian and the architect of an amateurish foreign policy. Once Kerry infused his character into the equation, Karl Rove and the Bush Campaign unleashed a torrent of abuse on it; questioning the Democratic nominee’s tour of duty in Viet Nam and playing over and over his testimony before congress that war crimes were being committed by his fellow soldiers. Soon a private group calling itself the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran television ads raising real question about Kerry’s credibility in this arena.

Kerry never defended himself, choosing instead to sheepishly attack the Bush Campaign for practicing dirty tricks with misleading ads and distracting the American electorate from the real issue, mainly that the Bush foreign policy was an abject failure costing the nation blood and treasure for what amounted to basically nothing. And this is exactly what’s happening to Romney right now. His entire argument for being president of the United States is that he is not a regular politician, but a man of business and the free market, while Barack Obama is a lifetime politician and insider whose only solutions comes through a broken Washington system that everyone pretty much hates.

It’s the wise move. Romney was a fair to middling governor, whose economic record was by all measures in the lower echelon of states when he left. And if he dares mention Massachusetts then he must address his mandated health care law and that gets him nowhere. His time working with the Salt Lake City Olympics may add a nice homey story to the narrative, but it’s really his connection with Bain Capital, a company he helped build and what his campaign and many Republican spinners have called a “job creating” enterprise that defines him. And here comes the Obama Campaign kicking the tires, at first bringing up the new third-rail of politics; outsourcing, a reality of business for the past two decades. Outsourcing may be gangbusters in Romney’s beloved private sector, but it is poison in politics. The Obama Campaign has brilliantly, and in many ways deviously, connected those dots. It’s good, clean, hard politics and part of the game, but it’s the way Romney has responded that is curious.

Why Romney refuses to release a decade’s worth of returns when it is the predominant practice of past nominees is weird, but for a candidate promoting himself as a financial wizard it’s downright insane.

Romney has been apologizing for his wealth and success by skirting his professional history and refiguring his time at Bain Capital, which helped earn him his fortune and the type of reputation that put him in the lofty position to run for president of the United States. When pressed about outsourcing he immediately claimed to have nothing to do with it, as he had already retired, for all intents and purposes admitting that whatever crazy shit those guys were doing from 1999 on he was busying himself in the a wholesome job of “running the Olympics”. Then when the Boston Globe uncovers the man’s title as “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” for the years he’d denied having anything to do with it he sends a phalanx of apologists on every news show to claim he was “retroactively retired”, whatever the hell that means.

Then comes the tax return issue.

Why Romney refuses to release a decade’s worth of returns when it is the predominant practice of past nominees is weird, but for a candidate promoting himself as a financial wizard it’s downright insane. Even novices know that by not revealing something — this was the Birthers argument with the current president’s birth certificate for four years, still kept alive by Romney Campaign surrogate, Donald Trump — the understanding is that there is something to hide. Nixon learned this the hard way when he at first battled the courts to keep control of the tapes that led to his impeachment.

Romney even went on network television and openly stated that if the tax returns of the past decade were released his opponents would eviscerate him by distorting the numbers. This goes beyond bad politics; it is character suicide. It puts his candidacy in the crosshairs of the oldest weapon in the books; “Make the bastard deny it.”

What Romney needs to do is stop denying it. He needs to stop running from his resume. In fact, he needs to embrace it. No one thinks that all of a sudden three months and change from Election Day that Mitt Romney is a champion of the poor or gives a shit about manufacturing jobs or the black caucus or unions or government regulation. Whatever Romney is, and many including this space have yet to actually figure it out, he must let the freak flag fly. Pull the Newt Gingrich line from 1994 about the party being over for freeloaders. Be the hardliner. Many Republican governors won their posts in 2010 with this approach. Shit, the guy who runs this state, a huge star in the party, is busy trying to fistfight people on the boardwalk and he’s getting a primetime speech at the convention.

Romney represents his party, much like Barack Obama did during his general election campaign of 2008. He smartly ignored Democratic pundits and did not get in the mud with Hillary Clinton, as Romney avoided any goofiness with Rich Santorum and the rest of the bunch this past spring. When Romney did go hard to the Right, something he was uncomfortable doing, he stammered out weak base-baiting crap like “self-deportation” or nonsense about contraception that sunk his chances at cutting into the Hispanic and young women’s vote. His party chose him over those guys, and whatever it is that beats in the man’s heart has to emerge quickly and defiantly to provide the broadest choice in November. What appears to be happening is he’s waiting out the clock, hoping to freeze the ball until the fourth quarter with the hope that no one notices he’s…well…he’s whatever the hell he’s scared for us to fine out he is.

Rupert Murdoch knows something about image. His FOXNEWS has restructured forever the idea of using the news to reframe the narrative. Mitt Romney should heed his warnings. Not being Barack Obama will serve him as well as not being George W. Bush served John Kerry.

So, I ask; what is Mitt Romney afraid of?

 

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The Supreme Cop-Out

Aquarian Weekly 7/18/12 REALITY CHECK

LAST WORD ON THE INDEPENDENT VOTE A Public Service Message Before Business as Usual Commences

Once every two years when national elections loom, this space makes its case for a third political party or at the very least a legitimate non-partisan independent voice to emerge from our fixed system. And make no mistake, it is a fixed system. It’s been rigged since 1860 when the last third party candidate took the White House. Several independents have tried and failed; among them notables Theodore Roosevelt (being shot didn’t help), John Anderson (who?), Ross Perot (twice) and Ralph Nader (lost count), lest we forget the now defunct Citizens Party, Independence Party of America, Reform Party, Unity Party and my favorite, the Modern Whig Party. All of them sent packing under a pile of money, strong-armed racketeering and public derision by the monolithic, monopolized corporate monstrosities know as the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Ralph Nader, a friend to this space, used it in 2004 to reveal the Democrats illegal jerry rigging of poll numbers to keep his independent run from entering primaries, town halls and caucuses, as both parties blocked his and fellow independent, a frequent contributor to the Reality Check News & Information Desk, Pat Buchanan’s participation in the 2000 presidential debates. Details of these and other atrocities against democracy are well documented in compendiums of this column readily available in book form.

Normally I would now descend into satirical hyperbole garnished with an explicative-laced joke-a-rama mocking everything you hold dear. But this is serious business now. There appears to be no way — and the evidence bears this out — that anything can be done during this generation on a bi-partisan basis. One party must rule to get stuff through the system, and usually it is asinine, like when the Republicans went insane and turned the country into not so subtle forms of Marshall Law and the Democrats kicked them out to engineer a massive health care law they still cannot fully explain.

What truly needs to happen to “fix” things is a balance of tax hikes and government cuts the likes of which we have not seen in four generations, because the shit storm is coming, folks, and there is no one in sight who has displayed the balls to deal with it.

John Boehner? Nancy Pelosi? Mitch McConnell? Chuck Schumer?

How long have these fossils been “in-charge”?

They have new ideas now?

I dare either one of these party hacks to utter the phrases “tax increases” or “budget cuts” — and I mean across-the-board tax increases and real cuts to a bloated military and a groaning entitlement coffer.

Perhaps if there was any true balance for the past two decades then things could have gone a bit smoother, but nope. It was all-in, and we have paid the bills and will continue to pay the bills for it. Some of us and our families and friends paid dearly with life and limb. Now these myopic ideological sycophants have the balls to ask us to choose once again between one fuck up or the other?

So the sheen is off the Barack Obama apple? Great. What’s the alternative? A guy who’s been hanging around the political trough for decades pitching the same tired shit that straddled the current guy with a broken economy and a damaged foreign policy? Excellent.

And what is the alternative to back-to-the-future? The guy who was supposed “change” with all the “hope”, who instead was predictably sucked into the system and spit out the other end a flaccid, inconsequential historical burp?

They’re not my voice and never have been. And they don’t give a flying fart about you or your country. Never did and never will.

Soon, I will get e-mail arguing that Obama has been jacked by the congress since 2010 and another will retort that he had control of both houses for two years before that. Then another will counter with how awful the 2000-2006 Republican congress was. And all of it will be spot-on.

So where does that leave us?

Mitt Romney has nothing. If he did, you would have heard about it. He represents the same dead-end refuse the Republicans offer up every time. And this version isn’t even authentic. The Republicans haven’t improved on the Calvin Coolidge model of free-market in a century. The same nonsense that landed this nation into a Great Depression has been watered down to careen us into a Deep Recession, but it’s not anything approaching new.

And then there is the made up stuff, like repealing laws and deporting undocumented citizens. Romney has as much power to repeal law as you and me, which is none. So he will do nothing to the health care law. And he will do nothing about immigration, because Obama has done nothing, as Bush II didn’t, as Bush I didn’t and Clinton in between, or has anyone in the position of president or members of congress during our lifetimes for that matter.

Why? These are ideological party platform issues. Nobody is going to budge.

Same sex marriage? (Yes, I’m going there again) There is no real champion for civil rights in the picture. The idea that a fifty-something progressive president can come to an epiphany that homosexuals are also citizens is enough to make you weep, when you’re done being embarrassed to be an American. Romney, once again, has no idea about this. He didn’t have an idea when he supported it, as he has none now that he is against it. He is a party puppet, an ambitious suit with nothing to offer as president. He, like the guy in charge now, is a party suckfish.

Need more evidence?

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 was a Republican invention — the individual mandate the brainchild of Newt Gingrich and the last great Republican revolution on Capitol Hill. It was originally a fairly centrist answer to the colossal mess Hillary Clinton sent to congress. It is also the same model the opposition candidate instituted in his state when governor of Massachusetts. Now the very same idiots who helped forge this alternative call it “socialized medicine”. Why? Because a Democratic congress enacted it, not a Republican one. Mitt Romney has even gone as far as supporting about fourteen of the law’s merits, and he’s the alternative.

Both candidates and their respective parties can’t even agree on the goddamn thing being a tax or a penalty. They have called it whatever suited at the time. It is a song and dance, nothing more: The Democrats did everything they could do doom Reagan, so the Republicans did everything they could to doom Clinton and the Democrats countered with treating G.W. Bush like a pariah and what this president has endured by the opposition party takes all comers.

The debt ceiling debate last year was by far one of the dumbest cons ever perpetuated on the American public. And I am convinced had an independent or non-party affiliated politician been in the Oval Office, it would never have happened. The United States Congress refused the paying of our bills to make political points. It was a battle they could never win, like these empty votes to repeal the health care law or Obama stonewalling Romney on gay marriage, women’s issues or immigration. It’s the same dime-store distractions Karl Rove pulled in 2004 to keep Captain Shoo-In afloat. None of it ever has a shred of truth to it. It is a fantasy dribbled out for our entertainment.

Okay, so I’ll get to my point and get back to the pool and my gin.

Last August a bi-partisan group called Americans Elect had a fine idea to send out a direct primary to the citizenry, so we had a grassroots alternative to nominate a capable candidate to bridge the political divide. It needed no affiliation with the two-party system, just an alternative voice straight from the people — like what the TEA Party was going to be before Roger Ailes turned into a bleating quagmire of slack-jawed car salesmen.

I hadn’t been apprised of Americans Elect until last Sunday when it was mentioned off-hand in an interview on CNN with former senator, Bill Bradley. Now to say I spend an ungodly amount of time trolling the underground media for crazy shit like this is a profound understatement, and I never heard a word of it.

Turns out both political parties spent millions in a successfully engineered kibosh of the thing. True democracy trampled by those who control the system — the jack-booted mutants of our making. We gave them the hammers and hell if they don’t use it.

Now poor Ron Paul, as independent a voice as you’re going to get in 2012, who tried the traditional way to make a dent in this whirlpool of corruption, is trying to just get 15 minutes of time on a podium to make his alternative points at the Republican Convention. The Republican Party wants no part of it. Lord knows the Democrats don’t even have someone with those kind of stones. They’ll be parading the usual bureaucratic wonk-addled “power to the people” snake charmers with nary a dissenting voice.

Meanwhile, this summer into fall we’ll listen to over a century of shitty ideas regurgitated by party shills calling themselves “the voice of the people”.

I ask: What people?

They’re not my voice and never have been. And they don’t give a flying fart about you or your country. Never did and never will.

Now I’m ready to cover this baby.

Bring it on.

 

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The Supreme Cop-Out

Aquarian Weekly 7/4/12 REALITY CHECK

THE SUPREME COP-OUT

Never saw this coming.

But give the law its due; the congress does have the power to tax anything and anyone. This is how we got to the 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court on Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services, No. 11-400 and the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, No. 11-393.

U.S. Supreme CourtHowever, the stance by this space and other relatively cogent opponents of the law has been duly supported, as the White House and its challengers defended it. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, as it has come to be known, is unconstitutional in the realm of the Commerce Clause, giving congress the right to regulate interstate business dealings. That avenue was a boondoggle from day one and everyone knew it. But the Court ultimately ruled correctly under the guise of the powers of the federal government to tax — as was done with most of entitlement programs and heavy leans, like with energy and tobacco, interstate highway tolls and all that crazy crap pulled during times of war.

The issue here, beyond the incredibly juicy political fallout on both sides of the aisle — positive and negative — is the gutless action by the highest court in the land to leave this issue in complete chaos; stating the law’s “wisdom” as questionable and how it will be implemented.

What’s the “wisdom” of any law, and how does the federal government have the right to say, for instance, outlaw a plant or denying basic freedoms, which is happening right now with marijuana and same-sex marriage?

This kind of shoddy, half-ruling should open up a chasm for these cases to cruise through nicely.

The same can be said by a ruling a little less than a week ago on the laughable Arizona SB 1070 Law.

The Supreme Court ruled 90 percent of the thing a joke, but left it up to the local police to dare to racially profile in the remaining ten percent of a law that pretty much calls for racial profiling. It’s not unlike these delusional people I encounter who don’t want to hear that they’re actually eating animals: “Cute little baby lamb? Not me…Yum!”

By the letter of the law both the ACA and SB 1070 infringe on the rights of the citizenry, do they not? This “greater good” stuff is always the way into your pocket and to keep you from doing something you just know isn’t harming anyone but yourself.

Granted, high-stakes gamblers (as I was for most of my twenties and early thirties), who wish to roll the dice and run amok without coverage, will most likely cost some sucker a grand a year. And it always cracks me up to think that sure, why do young people need health care insurance? — they’re healthy and strong with no other responsibilities — ah, but at the same time they’re drugged up and racing around in beat up, barely legal automobiles and motorcycles, hormones raging in random sex-fueled romps worthy of Caligula, topped off with stage diving, moshing, self-mutilation with tattoos and piercings, cliff diving, bungee jumping, night swimming (likely on drugs and in mid coitus), and well…give yourself a minute to think of all the dangerous shit that should have killed you.

Sure, let’s all line up and pay for these cretins.

This is basically, in childish but fairly stringent terms, what the United Stated Constitution was drafted for, the protection for the citizens of this republic to pursue happiness without a confused and powerless police force or the IRS keeping tabs on you.

So, I get the nuances of demanding these idiots and/or their parents get on board with the rest of us suckers and pony up the cash to keep doctors from having to treat the semi-comatose head-laceration that comes in at 1:00 am without a card. But the fact (to which laws are supposed to be based and ruled upon) remains — this is a mandated clause by the government (again!) for us to be part of some pool with the lazy, stupid, fat, pathetic and irresponsible, AND their dullard offspring. It’s akin to the cops forcing you to hitch a ride with a guy tripping on jimson weed. “It’s for the greater good!”

The Arizona law is less a national epidemic than the PPACA, merely because really no one lives in Arizona. It’s a fucking desert with beautiful Sedona trapped inside. Wonder if we could extricate it in an Obamacare medical exclusive, and let those people treat everyone like it’s Kristallnacht. But if they’re going to draft a law that speaks to border safety (a border with Mexico) then the chances enacting that law on a blonde, blue-eyed middle-aged jackass like me is unlikely. Why does any law need to pertain to one set of individuals and not another?

This is basically, in childish but fairly stringent terms, what the United Stated Constitution was drafted for, the protection for the citizens of this republic to pursue happiness without a confused and powerless police force or the IRS keeping tabs on you.

Let’s review, since I am repeatedly (and may I say with good reason) accused of either taking both sides of an argument for laughs or none for heartier laughs. The Supreme Court ruled correctly in both the PPACA and Arizona law SB1070, but did so in a very half-assed way, leaving lawmakers in congress and law-enforcers in Arizona with an extremely short rope in which to hang themselves. It would have been better to simply rule one way or the other — the law is legal under the Commerce Law (which it might be with the right attorney) or it is not (which it most certainly is not) and just wipe out the goofy Arizona law, because without the teeth of it, what exactly are these poor cops going to enforce?

Finally, because we cannot resist in getting a head start on the political charade a-comin’, the president will now have to finally defend his administration’s signature legislative accomplishment. Now the Republicans and specifically Mitt Romney can make it clear that if you don’t like this thing you had better vote for their guy or you’re stuck with it. And for Romney, the architect (along with Newt Gingrich in 1994) of the individual mandate, which was the main reason for the lawsuits in the first place, it will be hard to divest the record from the candidate. It also dilutes some of the crazed rhetoric that this was some kind of fascist/socialist plot, while continuing to make claims on being a strict constructionist.

 

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Attorneys General Rogue Past

Aquarian Weekly 6/27/12 REALITY CHECK

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH U.S. ATTORNEYS GENERAL?

History lesson, kids.

Ready?

Okay, can you name a single United States attorney general that has not broken some kind of major law in the past, I don’t know, let’s say half century?

I cannot.

Eric HolderWell, there are a few, William B. Saxbe, Griffin Bell, and maybe two other guys. There’s also the technicality of what a certain attorney general did before taking the office, like Nicholas Katzenbach, who as deputy attorney general drafted the infamous memo to the dubious Warren Commission that cast light on a government cover-up of the JFK assassination: “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he had no confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial…Speculation about Oswald’s motivation ought to be cut off…Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat–too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, etc.)…We need something to head off public speculation or Congressional hearings of the wrong sort.”

Be that as it may, the list of attorneys general, the chief law officer in the nation, having made mincemeat of some portion of the U.S. constitution is long. Very long.

For the purposes of current events, let’s first discuss the sitting attorney general, Eric Holder, who has been in the news for the Fast & Furious mess that has sullied his status, career and reputation. Without delving too deeply into Holder’s shenanigans here, there is absolutely nothing, not some, nothing that is legal about what Fast & Furious was supposed to achieve. Handing over a spectacular cache of weaponry to Mexican drug lords to track their use that ends up in the murder of an American border patrol agent is hardly murky. It’s indefensible. He simply belongs in prison for this. Not sure what has kept him working all this time. Election year? The possession of nude pictures of the first lady?

Holder’s screw up in all its drug running gun toting glory is a doozy, no question, but what I’m after is bigger; an explanation on why these top level law officers, specifically during my lifetime, have shown a complete disregard for the law. It’s as if by merely representing a concept, it is an invitation to flout it.

Power grab? Circumstance? Bad luck?

It is not coincidental that there has been a spate of attorneys general that for one excuse after another ignored their station — national security being the niftiest excuse — to better treat the law of the land as toilet paper.

Most recently was George W. Bush’s Alberto Gonzalez, who was for all intents and purposes using the Department of Justice as a political tool to launch trumped-up investigations of Democratic congressmen.

Before Gonzalez, John Ashcroft’s Patriot Act was so blatantly unconstitutional it was almost surreal, the only thing that topped it was the complete capitulation of the electorate, including yours truly, figuring that it was so off the charts loony that there was no way to actually enforce half of it. This of course turned out to be true, as the hundreds of lawsuits brought against the government has been successful. It became so messy for Ashcroft, he had to bail after memos circulated amongst his staff that the Justice Department handed iron-fisted powers of surveillance and torture to the executive branch, which included ignoring of the Third Geneva Convention, the ABM Treaty and the convenient sidestep of the First and Fourth Amendments under the auspices of “national security”.

It is not coincidental that there has been a spate of attorneys general that for one excuse after another ignored their station — national security being the niftiest excuse — to better treat the law of the land as toilet paper.

Janet Reno, serving as Bill Clinton’s attorney general, acted on flimsy intelligence about “militia groups” and presided over the massacre of 76 Americans in a compound outside Waco, Texas. For reasons only know to her, a lunatic preacher and his wisecracking and heavily armed Branch Davidians (many of them women and children) deserved to be eradicated with full military force. Later, Reno was held, as is Holder, in contempt of congress for withholding documents implicating the justice department for failing to pursue investigations of known Democratic donors.

That brings us to my favorite, Edwin Meese, as terrible a human being, assuming he was one, as has ever held high office in this land, and that, my friends, is saying something. Funny thing is he isn’t close to the worst attorney general. Meese was charged but not convicted (a technicality at best) and later resigned in disgrace over the Wedtech Scandal, wherein a company he was culling a paycheck from was given easy access to Department of Defense contracts that cost taxpayers millions. But that pales in comparison to the unmitigated contempt Meese held for the First Amendment, which he attacked ceaselessly by harassing every avenue of free expression above and beyond any sane description of his job. And should I bother going into his shameless manipulation behind the scenes to successfully, for a time, keep the dirt off his boss, Ronald Reagan for the outlandishly illegal Iran/Contra affair?

Reagan’s previous attorney general, William French Smith was another in a long line to be held in contempt of congress. This time it was Smith’s turn to withhold documents during an investigation of General Dynamics Corp., a weapons company in the pocket of the federal government for decades.

But Reagan’s clan was not nearly as roguish as Dick Nixon’s.

First, there’s John Mitchell, who paid money to everyone under the sun to commit a series of covert spying crimes against American citizens and sitting government officials, amongst other “national security” concerns surrounding students, protestors and private churches. Mitchell was clinically insane and was sacked by Nixon to parade in a cabal of attorneys general to keep the president from going to jail, including Richard Kleindienst, whose silence in the face of several pay-offs for a phalanx of criminals launched from inside the White House during the Watergate crisis lead eventually to Robert Bork, who carried out Nixon’s manic “Saturday Night Massacre”. This included, among a host of many others, the firing of his predecessor, Eliot Richardson, who had the job for five months.

This was what they call in the law business, the golden age of mayhem.

Then there is the curious case of Robert Kennedy, who had never tried a single case in any court in any land. In a case of nepotism run amok, Kennedy was given the post by his brother as payback for his father’s fixing the 1960 general election in at least five states. And although never outwardly breaking the law, RFK used his position and unusual access to the highest office in the land to heights never intended for attorney general. These include the covert negotiations with Soviet diplomats over the deployment of U.S. missiles in Turkey during the Cuban Missile Crisis and ushering prostitutes and starlets for JFK’s favor to and from the secret White House pool.

Not sure any of the above has to do with interpreting the law unless it is to interpret it through the prism of, at best, questionable behavior, which is what Eric Holder is now doing in the great tradition of the office.

 

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The Summer of Obama

Aquarian Weekly 6/20/12 REALITY CHECK

THE SUMMER OF OBAMA

A national political campaign is better than the best circus, with a mass baptism and couple of hangings thrown in. – H.L. Mencken

The stomp outweighs the gavel where persecution reigns. – Marquis De Sade’s aid-de-campe

With the notable exception of 2008, when there was no one left to defend or explain the abysmal eight years of George W. Bush, all election seasons are about the incumbent — his economy, his international standing, his policies, his leadership, his likeability and the confidence in the citizenry to either award him another four years or be so completely frightened or apathetic about his opponent, the choice is down to the lesser of two evils. Outside influences like hostages or a complete unforeseen economic meltdown and/or the random “October Surprise” not withstanding, that’s pretty much it. And in the cycles of an election season, none is crueler than summer. The best and the brightest, strong incumbents like Roosevelt or Reagan or even Nixon, have felt the sting of summer polls, dips in voter confidence, et al. But for the shaky ones, like the one we have now, the summer can be the death knell.

Barack ObamaIt’s time for those in the White House to get real about how they plan on defending this presidency. The hackneyed early pounding of challenger Mitt Romney by what appears to be a close-your-eyes-and-aim-a-dart strategy at the Barack Obama re-election committee has been weak and mostly ineffectual — and not because Romney isn’t one of the worst candidates in recent memory. Hell, a good deal of the underground element of his party never wanted him. I have yet to hear a single Republican or conservative friend or colleague — as long as they are not in the employ of the GOP — say anything positive about their candidate, except that he isn’t Barack Obama. Also, these same types who keep writing me missives that begin with “Beware the TEA Party” have yet to explain how the hell this fat-cat establishment stooge is their representative after six months of a long Republican primary.

No, Romney stinks, just like John Kerry stunk the last time we had a weak incumbent ready to be had. Kerry’s stench didn’t fully reveal itself until September. That’s about when the “I’m not Obama” thing will wear thing for Romney. He had better be about something and have a semblance of an alternative vision, because if he has to survive on cult of personality or tangible elements, he is toast. But in the summer of an election year when the warts of a presidency are out in full force, it’s all about The Man. And for Joe Cool, there are warts.

This economy, although rightly argued by the White House as markedly better than it was when Obama took office (Dow at 7,500 and the private sector losing 800,000 jobs monthly), it is hardly a scintilla of what was projected or even promised by his crack economic team of Wall St. punks and Clinton-era has-beens. The massive stimulus was hijacked by liberal lions in the congress — a congress that was controlled for four years, two under the president, before being ousted in 2010 in the wake of a slipshod and soon-to-be decided by the Supreme Court “unconstitutional” boondoggle of a Health Care Law.

And while this president has been more effective at this illicit and wholly vague “war on terror” than the cowboy president who preceded him, his ramping up the heat in Afghanistan and the blithe dismissal of most of its dead-end policies has been egregious. Remember, this is our anti-war candidate, who has assassinated more disparate terrorists than any president in history, included in the carnage are an America citizen and the man responsible for 9/11. The chances now or anytime that this guy, or anyone, least of all another Ivy League wimp trying to appear tough, is going to end this perpetual state of war is nil. It has been and will be the bankruptcy of this nation, because even purportedly fiscal conservative voices are in favor of never-ending aggression. Obama has done nothing to curtail it, if anything he has to done the opposite.

Shit, can Joe Cool run on this at best shaky and at worst horrid record of economic solvency, as instituted nearly a century ago, or will this be about how shitty Romney is or how shitty the Republicans were in the first place?

Apparently, even in the bitter heat and unforgiving light for summer, six out of ten voters still dig Joe Cool. And why not? He’s still the young candidate (Romney being another tired Baby Boomer nudge), articulate (except when explaining the actual gig he’s been given) and he’s overseen, Afghanistan aside, an overall responsible and effective foreign policy (the Libyan move — which I mocked ceaselessly — was a win-win).

But these same voters do not want more spending or more pathetic excuses about The Right blocking all these infusive economic salves. There is only a Right because in the dust of a Republican spending surge for the better part of a decade, leftist banshees like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid ram-rodded the usual parade of government overreach and caused a backlash. Being shocked that the opposition party, roundly mandated by the electorate in 2010, is blocking your agenda is like being surprised when a TV ad is biased towards the product it’s hawking.

Of course all this pales to the woeful economic numbers that for good or ill (and it has mostly been ill for presidents since FDR made it the business of the executive branch to be responsible for American fiscal solvency) are crushing Joe Cool weekly. Thanks for the most part to Republicans like Coolidge first and Hoover last, both of whom chose to ignore one out of every four Americans being out of work for three solid years prior to Roosevelt’s madness, the country as a whole has henceforth accepted the assistance and regulatory powers of the federal government over the monolithic banking system.

Trouble for this president is his desire to play the middle. Thus, he’s painted as a big-government liberal (in some goofy places as a socialist) as he cow-tows to the interests of speculators, banks, unions, and manufacturers, while also managing to pay lip service to the Dodd-Frank bill, which was passed under a Democratic congress and never certified. The Left claim it doesn’t exist, and what happened last month to J.P. Morgan Chase makes it clear that Joe Cool has no clear footing on either side of the aisle.

And thus here we are, as we were in the summer of 2004 when I sent to press the summation of what this fall’s election should be about: “George W. Bush was ready to be had by anyone aggressive and smart enough to build a viable alternative argument to massive job losses, a throbbing recession, the most spendthrift administration since FDR, and the worst post-war effort ever bungled by a sovereign nation. This election is supposed to be a referendum on the incumbent’s standing. It was ripe for a legitimate challenger to seize the opportunity to engage a debate on its merits.”

Karl Rove brilliantly framed it about gay marriage and soccer mom fear mongering and re-elected a dunce, who continued to care take the greatest economic collapse in eight decades, as will be the case this time around for Barack Obama. Second terms in my lifetime have been doom chambers. No one can survive it, least of all a polarized nation of overfed and over-stimulated mutants ramped with fear over some bullshit they read in a random screed like this nonsense.

But at least I am willing to go on record calling it nonsense, rather than commentary or analysis, even though it is as salient as any crap I’ve read from anyone for months. Shit, can Joe Cool run on this at best shaky and at worst horrid record of economic solvency, as instituted nearly a century ago, or will this be about how shitty Romney is or how shitty the Republicans were in the first place?

Hell if I know, but I do know it’s time for this president to get himself a helmet.

As Voodoo Princess Madam Sissy Meechum says, “It’s a long summer.”

 

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Wisconsin Recall Bust

Aquarian Weekly 6/13/12 REALITY CHECK

RECALL BUST Wisconsin Makes Big Bucks Off Political Theater

As far as Machiavellian political maneuvers go, The Wisconsin recall election was a bust. Governor Scott Walker, who had already won an election two years ago, was forced to run again over some bogus Democratic Party/Federal Employee Union petition by barely a quarter of the state. Worse yet, he had to spend time and energy defeating the same guy he roundly beat 17 months prior. As far as a media blitz, though, it was hugely successful. Cable news got two to three weeks of host yammering and a spate of bemused reporters standing in front of statehouses. It certainly beats the hell out of covering the completely meaningless New Jersey Republican primary. But where it really hit a home run was the influx of national attention and state funds that poured into Wisconsin during the thing.

Scott WalkerIt is the first time outside a Green Bay Packers run that the citizens of Wisconsin have appeared this relevant. Wild protests, legal wrangling, heated debates, backdoor deals, inter-party tensions, walkouts, brawls, and the rare recall election option put the Badger/Cheese state in play. Turns out its young governor, a nerdish wonk, the kind of dweeb beaten repeatedly for most of his early life is no evil genius or dark figure. Hardly. He’s white bread, middle-America haircut material, an eat-your-vegetable-and-hold-your-nose austerity chief. Walker is nothing if not a microcosm of what you get from say a Mitt Romney or Quint from “Jaws” — Sorry, folks, this place is insolvent; time to suck it up, so we can get your businesses back on a payin’ basis.

Which brings us to the money.

The Republican Party and its anti-union interests (13 out-of-state billionaires) poured in a surplus of $30 million with nearly four million contributed to pro-union and Democratic Party brokers, about an 8 to 1 split in favor of the governor. The totals ended up around a cool $62 million to basically put on a show for the nation; big time profits that will do more to yank the state from its morass than anything Walker could have accomplished in a decade.

It was a Mr. Magoo deal; dumbass incompetence falling ass-backwards into riches; a state version of Donald Trump complete with the gibberish.

But aside from opening up the cash coffers and exciting political junkies, the Wisconsin Recall came and went with everything remaining in place; people who want to be are convinced this is a TEA Party victory and have claimed it so, and others have called it the bane of modern draconian politics from the Right, as Bill Clinton did in his brilliantly conniving way the other day when he couched all this Republican austerity with the disasters in Greece, France and Spain; where the entitlement swansong has led to double-digit unemployment and teen rioting.

None of this is true, of course.

It was a Mr. Magoo deal; dumbass incompetence falling ass-backwards into riches; a state version of Donald Trump complete with the gibberish.

The Wisconsin Recall had nothing to do with the all-but dead TEA Party or the new Clintonion “vast right wing conspiracy”. It merely made the citizens of the state re-do a vote for the guy they voted for in the first place. Disagreeing with the governance of an official is no reason to rouse up a recall; malfeasance, mental incompetence or blatant disregard for the state constitution, maybe. Otherwise you are assured that a minimum 25 percent of any electorate will be unhappy about the results; in this era, it is well north of 40 percent. It’s a bullshit concept and resulted in nothing more than senseless hoo-ha; the cornerstone of political theater. But it was a cash bonanza, so all is forgiven.

And this goofy notion that this is a referendum on any other state’s unions or what will happen in the presidential election this November is as asinine as the arguments two months ago about gas prices.

Atavistic one-trick ponies like Walter Russell Mead, acting the part of a 1930s union buster, surmises in The American Interest that “Scott Walker attacked the American labor movement where it lives.” Yes, like when Jesse Jackson blathers on about racism in New York City instead of in the South where, if he had any balls, he would set up camp. Let’s see this song and dance in Michigan, jack. How about Ohio? This is where the American Labor movement lives and breathes and wields its bloated power. Hacking off health plans for schoolteachers in a cheese state where manufacturing isn’t even on the map does not a national referendum make.

But Mead’s disjointed partisan claptrap did make one salient point beyond providing an excellent sample of his spectacular naiveté, the Democrats and the Left did pick this fight and it was dumb and it was doomed and by all rights of honest battle, they should pay a price. But they won’t.

Maybe Mead and his ilk never heard that all politics is local. The people of Wisconsin, who haven’t cast a majority vote for a Republican since 1984, will vote once again for a Democrat, and what goes on in the rust-belt from Pennsylvania through Ohio into Michigan will depend on each state’s current standing and the strength of each campaign’s ground-level muscle. They are disparate pieces of a larger pie. Ohio — toss-up — Pennsylvania — Democrat — Michigan — an interesting twist of Romney home state versus the successful bailout of the auto industry; so far it appears to be a serious lean towards the president.

Walker barely campaigned. He smartly stood his ground and allowed the special interests of the national party brokers; the ones who shoehorned Romney past nickel-and-dimers like Santorum and Gingrich, to fill in the cracks with cash and manpower. The unions received a few appearances by MSNBC and Bill Clinton but were widely ignored by the Wall Street president not wanting to queer his anywhere from five to nine point lead in the state. The idea that this will alienate the important and powerful union lobby for the Democrats in the fall is fantasy, just like the Religious Right staying home or (gulp!) voting for Barack Obama because Romney has a lengthy record as a social liberal.

The national lessons of the Wisconsin Recall is recall away if you want to get some attention and money, but don’t expect a different result.

 

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The Art of Politics vs. The Act of Liberty

Aquarian Weekly 5/16/12 REALITY CHECK

WELCOME TO THE FUNHOUSE The Art of Politics vs. The Act of Liberty

Whoopie!

The president of the United States agrees with the Bill of Rights. This is a novel concept, like when a kid begins to understand the alphabet as not merely being the lyrics to a cute song to memorize or a series of strange symbols that form different sounds but pieces of a larger linguistic puzzle. I guess if Barack Obama, a constitutional law professor, has “evolved” into this realm of sound legal reasoning after a half century on this planet, a Harvard education, and three years as leader of the free world, we should shout hosannas to the highest mountain or decry him as a heretic and whatever “war on…” has re-entered the vox populi.

Not here, bub.

Gay MarriageHere we’re not fond of latecomers to the obvious. Detractors, and there are many, to this thinking claim that it is about time a politician in some form of power base utter these sentiments. Sure. Baby steps. First there’s “Will & Grace”, the vice president on Meet The Press, then some non-denial denials, spin doctoring, sample polling, and voila! common sense reasoning of civil rights and the liberties purportedly granted to American citizens by the United States Constitution!

Hoo-Ha!

I feel like cracking a beer and saluting this great nation. Oh, yes, the enlightened have triumphed again over the darkness of ignorance and we’ll forge ahead, as we have done time and again for nearly 240 years of blessed freedom!

Right, and George W. Bush was going to enact an amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004 if you elected him again. You did. And you know how many times this was mentioned after January of 2005?

Anyone? Bueller?

Zero times. Yes. Not a wit. Not even a ‘looking into it” or “under advisement”. Captain Shoo-In was as successful at that as winning wars and keeping us out of Chinese debt.

This Obama “coming to religion” (pun duly intended) on this issue of same-sex marriage and the law protecting the rights of the citizenry of our humble republic reeks of Woodrow Wilson promising the women’s vote to the suffrage movement during his desperate run for re-election in 1916 and then ignoring it and the suffragettes for three long years before being brow-beaten by congress to ratify the 19th Amendment, allowing, finally, embarrassingly, pathetically, women to vote.

And Wilson is what passed for “progressive” at the turn of the American Century. This is akin to calling Adam Sandler a thespian.

In election years presidents will say all kinds of things for different reasons. Lincoln’s re-election centered on relocating freed blacks to Caribbean colonies in Belize and had his head remained bullet free maybe the Great Emancipator would be now known as The Great Evictor or maybe it was just off-the-cuff campaign-speak. I am sure, in a bizarre confluence of circumstance and social interaction, that the 50 year-old Obama, a man from my generation, a man who had directed the course of his life to the intricacies of constitutional law would suddenly arrive at this conclusion due to the wisdom of his barely teenage daughters and the loving example of their friends’ same-sex parents. But for the sake of intellectual safety, I’m going to lean on the side of dicey.

This is our embarrassment now, my generation and our flip-flop president, all enlightened, like coming to the eventual conclusion that sucking smoke into the lungs would somehow be harmful or feeding piles of processed fast food into our kids wouldn’t make us grotesquely obese.

But we’ve been on this for well over ten years now and admittedly it was hard to imagine any really high-level player in American politics saying such a thing and not being doomed for it. And Obama may still be, but the electoral maps says otherwise, and one wonders if he has the gall to dive into a social battle with what looks to be a lesser but still Republican-controlled congress on a fringe social issue. But one thing is certain, if this is how the president is thinking and he intends to govern this way, if re-elected (again, still both of these are of rather dicey propositions) then it will be in his Supreme Court appointments that may ultimately determine what should have, and technically already is, determined: The denial of basic rights to any citizen is not only un-American (an ideological almost spiritual slice of poppycock), it is patently illegal under our most sacred tenet, the Constitution.

Let’s face it; Obama hedged his bet by immediately pointing out this was a state’s rights issue, which brings us back to wondering what the hell all that constitutional law learnin’ was for?

The yin-yang of all this controversial fallout is that the Republicans, more directly; their candidate for the highest office, Mitt Romney must take the other side, garnering the all-important religious-fanatic/bigot-centric vote. Romney, on record during four different campaigns as being not only for same-sex marriage but vowing to champion it, has gone the Santorum route on this, as he must. This is his only shot in swing states not named Florida. The base will love it, the FOXNEWS geeks and Rush Limbaugh and whatever other Right Wing dog and pony act is out there protecting us from ourselves.

But what of the independent vote? What of the religious liberals, or those who somehow have innocently mistaken tradition for law or morals for liberty, the foxes that were allowed a prime spot in the henhouse during Morning in America when The Gipper unleashed the primordial slime of Ed Meese to run roughshod over pornography and music and drugs and artistic dissonance. It’s too late to expunge these nuts; they are more powerful than six Black Panther parties and five KKK resurgences. These are the carping knuckle-draggers that have interpreted a nation of laws and personal liberty as a pox on Israelite Bible fantasies. They are the ones who mistake the distinction of a homosexual citizen as a convenient substitute for citizen the way their predecessors mistook the distinction of women as an excuse to deny citizen rights or the distinction of African Americans first from human and then citizen. They’re act is as old as the parchment they besmirch.

This is our embarrassment now, my generation and our flip-flop president, all enlightened, like coming to the eventual conclusion that sucking smoke into the lungs would somehow be harmful or feeding piles of processed fast food into our kids wouldn’t make us grotesquely obese.

The whole thing is another sickening reminder of how far we are from thorny concepts like freedom and liberty and all those flag-waving, ribbon-tying shenanigans that have put us on goof-alert for my entire time sucking air on this spinning sphere. We talk a good game but are paralyzed for long stretches when the going gets tough. That fact that the president of the United State uttering the idea of upholding the Bill of Rights for a segment of our fellow taxpayers is news is all you need to know about how utterly ridiculous a declaration of We The People really can be when ignored.

 

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GOP Lockdown 2012

Aquarian Weekly 5/2/12 REALITY CHECK

GOP LOCKDOWN Republican Establishment Begins to Clean House

Reince Priebus is on the wagon. The RNC chairman’s days of drunken violence and crude behavior are behind him. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and the faux conservative uprising of 2010 has been duly defeated. The TEA Party is a memory and so is all of the ugliness of Paul Ryan and debt ceiling debates. Revolution and upheaval has been replaced with spin-with-the-wind business lingo; the framing of national debate best figured by pinpoint polling results. This is about quiet opposition and bland rhetoric; gone will be the religious pronouncements, social reconstruction or fatalistic demagoguery. Show time, folks, is over. The return of Rockefeller Republicanism is back.

Mitt RomneyMitt Romney’s Machine has crushed the soul of Conservative politics, strategically engineered by Priebus and his party cronies to manipulate the general electorate come fall. It has been a steady slog, interrupted slightly by messy voting and nose-holding support from those who naively misread the 2010 mid-term elections as some kind of binding grass roots anti-government sentiment, the way the Left was sure the 2008 elections put the kibosh on the prior eight years of geo-political, big government overreach.

The Republican Party is not in the business of changing or challenging or creating serious opposition to the status quo. It wants a healthy slice of the status quo and its titular representative, the head of its aims, is Willard Mitt Romney, a 65 year-old moderate ex-governor and mediocre corporate raider with comportment from central casting and an amazing ability to live not only above the fray of most pressing national issues, but outside any true ideology. He is a political automaton created to be the face and breadth of a political party – easily molded and coachable. His debate performances, although mildly uneven and malleable, against fairly ferocious debaters in the primary season was testament to his ability to shift and parry. His post-primary speeches, strikingly general election orientated, rang the bells Republican leaders needed rung; “You don’t like this, neither do I, and I’ll stop it.” No details, no plans, no direction, but up.

Anyone who thinks this horribly weak model is not a good national election candidate is working on a short memory. Bill Clinton comes to mind, a centrist candidate with a fairly moderate gubernatorial record, bobbing and weaving his way through primary gaffs and faulty rhetoric. Of course, Romney is no Clinton in the sense that his charms fall more on the muted side, if there are charms at all, but this is the perfect anecdote if you are going against the Rock Star President, Joe Cool; who is well liked to the tune of over 70 percent, despite nearly the same number believing he and his policies stink to high heaven; an interesting balancing act that only Ronald Regan was able to pull off in 1984.

The Republican establishment might not have enthusiasm, glitter and pizzazz on its side, but it knows that this year that’s bullshit. Glitter and pizzazz straddled the party with Sarah Palin, one of the most damaging characters that hit the national stage in over half a century; a truly vacuous polarizing gasbag, who while exciting the base scared the living shit out of the crucial Independent vote and handed vital states like North Carolina, a Republican stronghold, over to Barack Obama.

This time the polls, although hardly a trustworthy measuring stick in the past two presidential election cycles, have been steady for months. Even with the complete obliteration of the Hispanic vote and a major shift among women voters, the Independent stronghold for Obama in 2008 has continued to wane without halt. Depending on the poll more Right Wing pollsters decide the Independent vote comes in at 45-37 in favor of Romney, but more balanced have it at 47-45, which is spot-on for a fairly non-threatening economic-centric (bland and steady) candidate to keep, if there are no Sarah Palin screw-ups.

Mitt Romney’s Machine has crushed the soul of Conservative politics, strategically engineered by Priebus and his party cronies to manipulate the general electorate come fall.

But social, gender and independent voting blocks aside, this is not technically a national election (ask Al Gore), but a gathering of electoral votes throughout 50 diverse states of varying districts, social constructs and economic realities. Think, for instance of Michigan, a state for which Romney and the Republicans have rightfully determined is a goner, whether its candidate publicly decried its subtenant business existence during the auto bailouts or not. But Pennsylvania, a Democratic bedrock for decades, is in play. The party had figured as far back as January during Priebus’ booze-addled hiatus, that Santorum was going to follow-up his 2006 senate re-election bid trouncing by failing to win his home state, a state he would likely cough up in November. If Romney is the candidate the party thinks it has bargained for, Pennsylvania and even Ohio could be taken.

This is the only way Romney can win. While national sentiment and modest Independent support is a given, the electoral map is not friendly territory, and only a non-factor candidate can change that.

Right now Republicans poll miserably in the swing states, as well as many of the states not guaranteed to the president, meaning if the economy does not improve and/or unemployment doesn’t dip into the mid-sevens, a scarecrow with enough money could put dents into this reality. This was never going to happen with Santorum or Gingrich or the bevy of misfits before them. According to Republican thinking, this time around cold strategy, not passion wins the day. Passion was 2008, and what Republicans want is to forget that year and the economic collapse its party helped to create and the resultant big-government stimulus that ultimately averted it.

What in late 2007 this space described as a detriment could well be a winning element in 2012:

“Watch Romney speak some time. Really watch him. The eyes dart spastically, the brow furrows, his speech patterns falter and then queer altogether. He often looks like the boy who has just realized he’s lost in a department store; that eerily suspended moment of panic-clarity before the freak-out. Romney has that look right now as he blurts out the phrase “moral convictions” every thirty seconds to keep from convulsing. I half expect a reptile to explode from his rib cage at any moment.” – MITT ROMNEY – DON’T ASK – DON’T TELL – Issue: 12/12/07

This was our coverage of a speech Romney delivered trying to separate his Mormon faith from that of his legitimacy for the presidency, the kind of speech that makes religious stalwarts like Santorum ill, but makes strategic sense. It was something Romney and his advisers felt he had to do in 2007, but now rings as hollow as Romney himself. This is economic times, not a time for “moral convictions” to which Barack Obama wins in almost any poll conducted.

It is the year of the tortoise and the hare, in which the Republicans will paint the president as a celebrity good-guy whose charisma has failed to unite, galvanize and “change” this nation or more importantly this government over his first term. That, and only that, and whatever unforeseen happenstance may happen this summer, will give the Republicans a chance to do what five years ago seemed like a goofy pipedream, control the two main branches of the government again, as it did in 2000, when the nation had a surplus and thought itself impervious to international attack.

In other words, the salad days for Republicanism, before the Bush/Rove/Cheney people hijacked it with so-called anti-Republican nation building and non-funded government bloating.

A state-by-state, statistical strategy devoid of purpose or direction, beyond winning the White House, will transform Mitt Romney’s weakness into strength.

 

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The Buffett Rule?

Aquarian Weekly 4/25/12 REALITY CHECK

THE BUFFETT RULE?

It’s national campaign time and the Democrats have joined the crazy. Six months of idiocy from the Republicans was apparently enough. Check that; to understand what is going on in congress with what is officially coined the Paying a Fair Share Act is merely the volley returned for the TEA Party induced mayhem that stalled Capitol Hill during last year’s Debt Ceiling Debate. Congress has now become the land of vacant bills thrown into the chamber to make grandiose ideological statements with a political slant; or, as they like to say on K STREET, “business as usual”.

The Paying a Fair Share Act has as much teeth as the legislative branch of the federal government not paying its bills, to which it should mean none. But what it does accomplish, although eventually backfired on Republicans – unless there are still some who hang their hat on calling this the “Lowered Credit Rating President” – is put the 99 percenters (the latest street-cred protest, ala the TEA Party) in the conversation and fan the flames of class warfare and populism that is polling through the roof these days.

It’s a wise move from a defensive party hoping to maintain the executive branch in a crawling economic recovery and escalating gas prices, but it’s the epitome of farce; “a light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a skillfully exploited situation rather than upon the development of character”. Substitute “plot” with “public discourse” and “character” with “law” and you got yourself a free campaign ad.

The Paying a Fair Share Act is pure showbiz. Its premise is ineffectual at best and at worst, infantile. You know, like selling the idea that sending your kids to be maimed killing Iraqis will keep you safe. It’s the grand ruse you must swallow to be part of an ostensibly free society wherein freedom is merely doled out incrementally through a series of pacifications. We agree only with this systemic patronization because, really, what’s our choice?

The origin of the Paying a Fair Share Act is of course the famed Buffett Rule, dubbed by Barack Obama in 2011 after billionaire Warren Buffett’s claim that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. This led to Senate minority leader, Harry Reid’s proposal of a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires. This predictably went nowhere with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and wasn’t even broached in the president’s 2013 budget proposal, but suddenly with the Rick Santorum follies shut down for the season, here comes the big guns.

Of course, big guns are never needed when shooting fish in a barrel, as it is when the rich are put on trial. It’s the oldest scam on the books. French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Cuban Revolution, hell you can make a solid case for the American Revolution propping the wealth class up as a symbol of a country’s ills. You could even rightfully argue that in all those cases the wealth class was indeed public enemy numero uno, but what does that do for the proletariat but to be force-fed into another cauldron of steaming bullshit to be exploited by the fallout?

The Paying a Fair Share Act is pure showbiz. Its premise is ineffectual at best and at worst, infantile. You know, like selling the idea that sending your kids to be maimed killing Iraqis will keep you safe.

This is no place to start bringing up capital gains taxes and debt reduction and redistribution of wealth. Let the economists and pseudo pundits frame their own guesswork there. The problems with both the Buffett Rule and the Paying a Fair Share Act can be found in its choice of terms; “paying” and “fair” and “share” and “rule”. None of these apply to the United States of America, no matter how many countries we bomb or benefits we bestow. This was not a country founded on “fair” in any way shape or form. It is also a country loath to “share”. In fact, there are still paid employees of the state who yammer on ceaselessly about the veiled threat of socialism the minute they hear the words fairness and sharing. This is why in its humblest way this is the greatest nation in modern civilization. It reflects the barest truth about life in general: It is unfair and sharing is about as natural a human trait as flying. And “paying”? Who the hell likes paying for anything; monetarily, emotionally, personally, or otherwise? And nobody, but nobody, beyond the truly religious (.00001 percent) digs a fucking “rule”.

This space spent months last year warning Republicans that harping on the national debt was bad mojo which would come back to claim its pound of flesh, and boy has it ever. Republican Patron Saint, Ronald Reagan once proclaimed that “deficits don’t matter” and he did so because his main goal was to cut taxes and bloat military spending, the former of which he failed miserably to achieve having raised taxes some seven different times during his two-term presidency, as the latter he joyfully scored again and again. This apparently is still the Republican goal, which is something akin to toasting sobriety. Without raising taxes and cutting spending the national debt will soar, something the Bush 43 presidency blatantly illustrated, and precisely why 60 percent of Americans are keen on having the rich foot the bill.

Here’s the thing; why don’t all the wealthiest assholes that want to pay down the debt pool their money and do it. No rules. No fairness. No sharing. No new laws. Just get together a handful of billionaires, pro jocks, rock stars, computer geeks, reality TV jack-offs, and slip some checks to the Chinese. Find that dipshit G.W. Bush and his daddy and pull some of his own patriotic bullshit and guilt him into some funds. The Clintons are worth millions. Let’s pony up, Billary.

The biggest problem with the Buffett Rule and The Paying a Fair Share Act is that it forces the hand of those with coffers to legally hand it over. Why not appeal to their better angels, or failing that (since “better angels” usually does not apply to hiding laundered money in the Cayman Islands) boycott their interests. Now we’re talking some real grassroots, ugly, sweaty unfair misrule of democracy.

Until then, count this as the first salvo to pit popular opinion against Mitt Romney, who already has a steep hill to climb pivoting on some goofy anti-Latino and anti-women shit he had to spout to jettison the pesky Santorum that has cost him dearly. This is why you already hear him desperately pissing on the media. Maybe Romney forgot, the key to democracy is that “unfair” applies to everyone.

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