Wednesday, July 20, 2011

GOP Candidate Breakdown #2: Michele Bachmann (as featured on

Michele Bachmann.  Sigh.  Alright, let's get through this.

Age: 55, but probably made a pact with Lucifer to live forever.  This may drain on Social Security and Medicare.

Hometown:  Again, its a tricky one, but she was physically born in Waterloo, Iowa.  She represents a district in Minnesota in the House of Representatives.

Place in Republican Party:  She wears three hats.  First, she's most closely associated with the Tea Party movement (after all, she did found the Tea Party Caucus).  However, she's also an evangelical Christian and votes based on what the Bible tells her and what her church teaches as opposed to the reality of the situation and she's a vote in Congress that does everything that she can to retard the efforts of the Obama Administration.
Polls:  NH:  She's behind Romney (everyone is), and her chances here aren't that great.  The voters tend to go for the relatively sensible candidate.  John McCain in 2000 and 2008, George H.W. Bush in '88.  They were candidates who are capable of appealing to the center.  Bachmann doesn't have that savoir faire.

IA:  She's leading here (for now).  She's got two advantages.  She's originally from Iowa (her second announcement for president was in her hometown) so there's a perceived home court advantage, but also her religious zealotry has an appeal to core GOP voters.  Also, she's coming across as a candidate that would do well in caucus states and situations.  And you know who else was great in caucus votes?  Barack Obama.

SC:  Again, Romney leads the pack, but her Christianity can be played up here to great effect.  Also, if SC switches to a caucus this year, she stands a decent chance.

NV:  She shouldn't bother with this place.  It's so sewed up for Romney, it's not funny.  Also, there's Las Vegas.  Sin City.  And if Bachmann is going to scream and run away because of two lesbians wanting to ask her a question, her head's going to explode when she see's the Strip.

The first thing that I would like to point out is that no sitting Representative has lead a successful campaign to the White House.  Ever.  Your usual springboard positions are Vice-President, Senator, Governor and, on the occasion, a General.  So, statistics are against Bachmann from the beginning, but I'm sure she would ignore something like math.

To borrow a joke from Lewis Black, Michele Bachmann smiles so much, I don't believe that she has a central nervous system.  I have evidence to back this up.  There are three things that Bachmann is primarily known for:

1.  Saying stupid, stupid things.  The following are pulled from PolitiFact, a fact-checking website.  These are listed as "false" statements or "pants on fire" statements.  The latter signifies that the statement isn't just wrong, it's a lie.  I'm going to pull three at random:

Says the Constitution only requires her to tell the census "how many people are in our home."  Pants on Fire.  And she instructed her constituents to not fill out the census, which I wish that they would have done because that meant that the GOP in MN would have erased her district.  After all, there's not that many people living there... all of a sudden...

In the 1970s, "the swine flu broke out . . . under another Democrat, President Jimmy Carter."  Pants on Fire.  It was Gerald Ford.  And I'm pretty sure that Swine Flu doesn't give a shit as to who is in the White House.

"Secretary Geithner has left the option on the table" of abandoning the dollar for a multinational currency.  False.  Just... just, wrong.  Who told her that?  Who tells her these things?

And it's not just that she's wrong.  She's allowed to be wrong.  But when she's told that she's wrong, she doubles down, a la George W. Bush.  

Take the issue of her statement that the Founding Fathers fought tirelessly to end slavery (spoiler alert: they didn't).  When this objective fact is pointed out to her, she says "Oh, no, YOU'RE wrong!  Because there is John Quincy Adams and he fought against slavery.  He worked hard during the Revolution and was certainly a Founding Father."

Now, generally speaking to be considered a Founding Father, you are someone who signed the Declaration of Independence or were present at the debates of the Constitutional Convention.  John Quincy Adams did neither.  BECAUSE HE WAS 9 WHEN THE DECLARATION WAS SIGNED.

So, if Mrs. Bachmann becomes President and is dealing in foreign affairs and she confuses India and Pakistan, is she going to correct the Indian Minister?  If she's talking with a group of scientists about global warming, if she's speaking with men and women that have made it their life's work to study climate change and the affects that humanity has on the weather, is she going to flat-out tell them that their wrong because God told her that she was right?  

2.  Intense and deplorable hatred of homosexuals and those that tolerate the homosexual lifestyle.   Her husband, Marcus Bachmann runs a "clinic" in MN that tells you to "pray the gay away".  It rhymes so it must be correct!  She's not a favorite among the gay community, probably because she has called the lifestyle "living in bondage" and akin to Satan, I think Fred Karger (the log cabin Republican that's running against Romney) should actually focus on Bachmann.  The whole thing is enough to make Jesus Christ shake his head and say "I'm positive I mentioned something about loving each other."

3.  She's allowed to be a bigot.  She's allowed to be ignorant.  She's allowed to be a powerful and ignorant bigot.  But she completely lacks any sort of intellectual curiosity.  That's what makes Obama refreshing from Bush.  If Obama doesn't know something, he's the kind of guy that would go look it up and then draw a conclusion.  Bachmann already has the conclusion, and is going to go find some facts that are going to support her ideas.  It's why she supports the teaching of Intelligent Design in the classroom (also says that there are several Nobel Prize winning scientists that back her up.  Guess what?  She can't name one.  Because they don't exist.)  She said, when she announced that she was running for president in Waterloo, IA (the second announcement she made that she was running for president), that everything that she ever learned was in Waterloo. 

This is a ridiculous notion.  The concept that the people in a small town can have the right plan to run a nation of 300 million or that they would be able to get along (or against) the rest of the billions of people on the planet is just silly.  The idea that the right way is somehow attained in Small Town USA and that the big cities and Washington DC are ignorant to this is just stupid and detrimental to the entire process.

Instead, the solutions come from open, honest dialogue.  This cannot happen in echo chambers in small towns or big cities. The real question that we should be asking ourselves is whether or not we are capable of having an honest dialogue at all.  

Now, watch Bachmann in an interview.  See how fast she answers questions and see how she never hesitates.  Thoughtful people hesitate.  Considerate people hesitate.  Blockheads do not hesitate.  They shoot first and ask questions later.

Bachmann is not a good choice for President, for the GOP or for anybody.  As a general observation, there's little doubt in my mind that Bachmann is going to appeal to hard-core conservatives, but the General Election is not about appealing to the base, it's convincing everyone else, the Independents and even the liberals and progressives.  She'll flounder and I doubt that she'll get the nomination.  She'll pick up some delegates, maybe even enough to bargain with at the convention.  But the GOP has to think about the long term not just the nomination.  

Political Posturing Without A Spine (as featured on

Back in April (a lifetime ago in politics), Congress passed the budget for the year and then, when the common man began to breathe a sigh of relief that the government wasn't going to shut down, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner (bundle of joy that he is) said that the debt limit was going to have to be raised, otherwise the US AAA Bond Rating (our credit score) was going to go down the toilet and possibly put the economy, which is now generally agreed to be an anemic recovery, into a tailspin and then we're back where we started in 2008 or worse.

I remember thinking, well, they should raise the debt ceiling then.  They should question what the purpose of a limit is if they are just going to raise the limit whenever they want to.  Then I remembered that there is the GOP.  The party that doesn't question what a Republican president do, but when a Democrat is in there, all of a sudden, it doesn't matter what the previous president did, we have to focus on the current administration.  But for conservatism, a line of thought that spends so much time on history and studying the way things have worked, its convenient for them to either be amnesiacs OR for them to have suddenly seen the light!

So it didn't matter that the debt ceiling was raised about 7 times under the previous administration.  It didn't matter that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were never put on the books and now this president is responsibly putting them in the figures for the budget.  The rest of it didn't matter.  The only thing that matters now is cutting entitlement spending and not willing to make one single compromise.

The GOP, at first, said that under no circumstances were they going to raise the debt limit.  Then Boehner said that, actually, there were circumstances and that would include cuts in spending in the trillions of dollars BUT NO SPENDING INCREASES WHATSOEVER!  Not even closing tax loopholes, the money that the wealthy should be paying but are not.  NO, NOT EVEN THAT!!!


Then began the stalemate, with it's dramatic walk-outs, starting with Eric Cantor who walked out in the middle of the meeting and President Obama who walked out... at the end of the meeting, after setting the time for the next meeting... not nearly as dramatic as Mr. Cantor, but then again Obama doesn't act like a little child.

It didn't seem like anything was going to happen.  It seems now at this writing that the US is going to fail to pass the measures necessary to raise the debt ceiling, we're going to go into default on our debt and that we're going to be speaking Mandarin by the end of the year... well, maybe not, but the default is likely to happen.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R - KY) proposed that the Congress pass a resolution that would give the President the authority to raise the debt ceiling to the president.  It would be subject to a resolution of approval or disapproval (which the president would be able to veto and raise the debt limit anyway).  I heard about this because I was listening to Sean Hannity's radio program.  Sean Hannity has a head so big that I'm positive that it affects the tides.

Hannity, in a rare demonstration of journalism (a profession that he professes to be an active member of), reported the initial suggestions that McConnell's proposal, he immediately said "I'm going on the record that I don't believe this."  Then he siad that if it was true, then McConnell, should "stand aside".  Not "step down" but "stand aside".  Which goes against the Reagan Commandment:  Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican, but that's hardly the point.

I mention this moment for two reason.  First, Sean Hannity is a blathering idiot and when he talks, its at the detriment to the GOP .  He's the conservative Jane Fonda or Barbra Streisand only without the Tony nominations (next year, Sean, next year!) In the last ten year,s, the Republicans have begun to rely too much on their non-elected officials to get their message out.  Conservative commentators have too much impact and for all the talk about the influence of liberal bloggers (not me specifically, but the collective hive mind) and the liberal Hollywood Elite, nary a word is spoke about AM Talk Radio, conservative websites and Fox News.  The idea that a Senator could have an idea (albeit a bad one, but an idea nonetheless) and be immediately politically threatened is disgraceful.
It shows a disparity within the GOP  that must be addressed before the party returns to full power.  And, because of the Two Party system, it's only a matter of time before they do.

The second reason is more obvious and is one that has already been discussed:  that the Republicans are less interesting in coming to a resolution and are more interested in creating an atmosphere that they feel can support their return to the White House.  it's political posturing on a level that is at least disingenuous and at most criminal.  If Reince Priebus, the RNC Chair, wants the FEC to go after Obama for filming a campaign video in the White House, then he should also speak to the fact that the GOP are blatantly holding up negotiations while they struggle to control the narrative.

There's the suggestion that the GOP are crazy.  I leave that for the New York Times Op-Ed page to discuss. However, if they are sane, then the only reason that the GOP would delay up to this point would be because they are trying to control the narrative.  They are trying to convince people that not only what they are doing is the right thing to do but that, regardless as to the outcome, they have won the overall debate.

It's cowardice, a failure of ideas, and a failure of Republican leadership.  The Tea Party may have bolstered the GOP in the past but if the Republicans can't come up with a real idea or admit to a simple compromise, conservatives have to find a new party.  Because when it comes to evolution and adapting to survive, it helps to have a backbone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bread and Circuses: Primarily Ridiculous

There are about 308 million people that live in the country.  Over 50% of the nation lives in one of the following ten states (starting with the highest):

1. California
2.  Texas
3. New York
4. Florida
5. Illinois
6. Pennsylvania
7. Ohio
8. Michigan
9. Georgia (I'm from there!)
10.  North Carolina

The first primaries and caucuses, however, are not held in these states.  They're held in South Carolina (#24), Iowa (#30), Nevada (#35) and New Hampshire (#42).  Combined, these states have a combined population less that of the Los Angeles Metro Area.  The entire state of South Carolina's population could fit in Atlanta, GA.  So, why is it that these states are the ones that have the first primaries?  More or less because... well, they say so.

Everyone in South Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada could live here.
This first in the nation mentality has two adverse affects.  First, it creates a false mentality that the people who live in these states are relevant.  I don't say that to be cruel.  But the reality of the situation is that polticians every four years descend upon the state of Iowa, they make the party chairmen happy and they always make some vague promise about ethanol subsidies and then never do anything about it.  A bunch of money is dumped into the state and then it becomes a political pariah for the remainder of the term of the presidency.

And New Hampshire, classy place that it is, has a state law that requires that the first primary in the nation has to be held there.  It used to be held in March, but when other states even move their primary a little bit close to NH's, they move it up.  In 2008, the Secretary of State of NH, classy guy that he is, said that if the other states would move their primaries again, that it would push NH to have their primary in 2007, almost TEN MONTHS before the general election.  And he didn't care that this was going to elongate the process (the entire election run takes far, far, far too much time) and by elongating the process making it cost more money.  But as long as NH becomes relevant for a few months every few years...

I could go on about how the NH primary hasn't picked the eventual nominee for the Democrats since Jimmy Carter in 1976 (35 years) and hasn't done that with the Republicans since George H.W. Bush in 1988 (23 years).  The reason why this is important because the argument for the NH primary to be held first is because the electorate is said to be more highly educated and better versed in politics, civics and government.  Why hold the first primary in the nation if you're going to pick Senator Paul Tsongas.  Do you remember who that is?  I rest my case.

Now, we're brought to South Carolina.  Gov. Nikki Haley may cut funding for the primary in the state.  (This column will give her credit for being consistent.  If she's going to cut the state's public broadcasting, she should at least cut funding for her party's state primary.)  This means that they would have to move to a less costly caucus and may give other states (probably Florida), the chance to step forward and assume the First in the South Primary.


This kind of infighting is wholly unnecessary and by and large creates a false narrative in the entire election process.  The fact of the matter is that it didn't matter then, it doesn't matter now and it won't ever really matter what voters in one state think.  It's the collective view of the entire population of the country.

And the things that gets me is that it doesn't have to be this way! They are alternatives to the current primary system (which takes far too long and is far too expensive) and they would require not an action of Congress or the President, but they could be done by a conference of all the Secretaries of State for the individual states.  I mean, it's not as if they're doing anything else right now!

The established states should step aside for new ways of making a party's nominee.  It's putting too much power in such a specialized population.  It's nice to think that going to small towns and rural regions give us that homespun wisdom that we need to get by in this crazy, mixed-up world that we live in, but it's disingenuous and, frankly, not practical any more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Candidates Against Change: Mitt Romney

This is going to be a series of meditations and profiles on the significant candidates in the 2012 GOP Primary Run (Sorry, Fred Karger, I couldn't care less about you running).  I'm also going to include info on the prospects in the primaries and caucuses and a serious hypothetical about this person running in the general election.  First up, Mitt Romney.

Portrait of Mitt Romney

Age: 64.  But, damn, he doesn't look it!

Hometown:  This is a tricky one.  He was born in Detroit (his father George Romney was governor there), but he spent a great deal of time in Utah (he's Mormon.  You had to have already known that, but we'll talk more about that later), but his political experience is in Massachusetts (hereafter Mass).  I'm going to go with political birthplace and say Boston, MA.

Place in Republican Party:  He's well-respected, with no ties to the previous administration, which is a good thing and should have helped him with the nomination then.  He's changed positions which some don't care for and see as a liability.  Other's don't like him because... he's Mormon (again, more on that later.)

Polls:  NH - Very good.  He polls well with independents and does very well with the moderate wing of the Republican Party.  That's why he's doing well here and will have to do well in the primary (assuming he's there for the primary).

Iowa - Today, it was announced that a single poll has Michele Bachmann ahead in the state.  This shouldn't deter Romney because, honestly the Bachmann campaign may implode if she talks about how slavery was bad, sure, but what about the family staying together?  (Don't worry, that, unfortunately, won't be the nail in her campaign's coffin.) Romney should stick it out and coast along.  He'll be fine.

SC - The odds that he'll win here are so-so.  There is talk that the primary here may become a less costly caucus.  If so, it's believed that Romney will do better, but maybe not an outright win.  He should downplay any expectations in SC.

Nevada - This became a target in the last primary season and Romney's a shoe-in.  This may dampen the state's effect in future nominations (to include this one) but Romney polls well in states where there's a high Mormon population.  The more people know about the religion, the more likely that they are going to support a candidate who's Mormon. Think of SC as the complete opposite of SC.

Ah, Mitt Romney:  While I would not vote for him, Romney is probably the best candidate that the GOP has.  This was true in '08 and it remains to be true now.  Reason why he was ideal in /08 was because he didn't have strong connections to the Bush Administrations like other candidates I know (His name starts with a J and ends with ohn McCain.)  This time around, he has the stink of a loser, but he smiles and waves and moves like a winner.

His lead should be treated caution.  Both Rudy Giuliani and Hilary Clinton were polling as well in IA and NH at this point in the campaign last time around.  However, he should play it up and exploit it.  The major strength of the Romney campaign is fundraising.  He's always well-known for three things, herein to be discussed and analyzed:

1.  He stated and ran Bain Capital, a highly successful hedge fund that turned several businesses around.  This is true, he did turn them around.  Right after he and Bain Capital got paid, the businesses typically declared bankruptcies and laid off countless employees (I mean, you could count them, but it was still heartless and pointless business decision-making.  Romney's perceived strength (not actual strength) is on the economy.  And he's going to have a hard time pressing against Obama for not creating jobs when he himself destroyed jobs deliberately.

2.  Romney was  the Governor of Mass.  In a traditionally blue-state, he was elected as a Republican.  No small feat.  And everyone that I've ever talked to, Republican and Democrat from the Bay State, have more or less said the same thing "He might have been the best governor that we've ever had."  Now, either that's a common phrase in Boston or it's the truth.  He was, at one point in time, able to reach across the aisle and make compromises and get work done (RomneyCare or CommonwealthCare if you prefer real names of things).  It's going to hang over his head for the entire race, but this is a calculation that he's made and he couldn't have missed it.  This column will assume that Romney knows what he's doing in this regard.  Hopefully, its more than "Maybe people will ignore it."  Not a chance.

File:Romney portrait.jpg

3.  Romney is a practicing Mormon (that's the difference between him and Huntsman).  most in the GOP say that they wouldn't vote for an LDS.  Romney, however, is still polling well and he's doing very well in states with significant Mormon population.  Familiarity, in this case, does not breed contempt.

It's a shame that in the 21st century, we still take where a man goes to on a Sunday morning into consideration.  We shouldn't .  Because a man might sleep in, he might wake up at 5am, but who cares?  As long as they are an effective leader, what difference does the rest of it make?  John Kennedy's Catholocism had nothing to do with the way that he ran the office of the White House.  None.  The only time the fact that he was Catholic was mentioned was when he gave a speech saying that he didn't take marching orders from the Vatican.  Romney has already said as much regarding Temple Square in SLC and he did that four years ago.

Especially when there are so many other things to criticize Romney for.  While the polling is in his favor now, Romney doesn't stand a good chance in the general election. It's going to be to easy for Democrats to portray him as a New England flip-flopper.

Joke liberally taken (get it?) from the Daily Show.
And that doesn't work.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Obama Down Plays the Nuclear Option, I mean, the Constitution

A legitimate argument has yet to be presented against the 14th Amendment case.  Yet, President Obama, in his Twitter Town Hall Forum downplayed his use of the option.  "I don't think that we need to make it a constitutional issue." he said during the hour long session today.

Which is weird because I thought that all branches of government kind of had to deal with things that were constitutional or not.  

(And, quick sidebar, how weird was it that he had a Twitter Town Hall Forum??  I mean, I'm not upset or frustrated, just perplexed.  It... it was... eh.  I don't have the energy.)

And Sen. Mitch McConnell said today that his side wasn't "absolutist".  "We have a better term for it -- common sense."  Now, say what you want about liberals being condescending, what McConnell said, that is condescending enough for Barbara Streisand.

Think of the debt crisis as this:  You have a credit card that you're way, way, way over.  You've been on time on payments, so you're credit is good, but you're getting to the point where you are going to make sacrifices.  Otherwise, men in black suits are going to break down the door and take you and your family away in silent helicopters to a compound in Nebraska.

You could a) stop spending money on the card in the amounts that you have, b) raise your income level or c) both of these things.  The "common sense" option is C!  You deal with the issue that much faster and you don't have to have it continual hanging over your head!  

But then you're spouse comes in and says "Don't get a better paying job!!!  Why would you do that?  You're going to stifle the growth of this house if you get a better paying job!!!"  And all you can really do is stare back and wonder how is it that you've been married for so long.  

"But we have to do something to deal with this credit card."

"Well, turn off a light switch when you leave a room."

"That's not going to help with the debt I owe, just the amount of bills that I would have coming in."

"If you get a better paying job, it's socialism."

Okay, it's not a perfect metaphor, but it's sound.  By insisting on spending cuts, the GOP are only fixing the issue of the amount of debt that will be owed, not the current amount of debt.  Obama/WH/Democrats/Rational people are trying to take a balanced approach, one that appeases the Right by making drastic (and I mean drastic cuts to spending) but one that shares the burden of supporting the government to those that afford to take a hit.

And it's not to say that having a balanced approach is always the right thing to do, but in this case, it makes good sense.  It's good economics, it's the only way that the debt is going to be taken care of any time soon and that must be the only reason why the GOP is so adamant against it.

But back to the Nuclear Option/14th Amendment/The Constitution:  Obama downplayed his thoughts on the option.  He didn't say "I will not cite the 14th Amendment to prevent the country from defaulting on it's debt." He's given the process another two weeks.  In two weeks, we will either have a balanced approach on the matter or you'll need a Geiger Counter to start walking through the halls of Congress.

On a side note, I'm going to starting writing this blog on a site called  Please go over and give the site a once over.  It's a good forum and has good writers about the place.  Check it out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shattering the Ceiling: The Opportunity Behind (or Under) the Debt Crisis

Normally, I would focus on the GOP campaign for the presidency, but the issue of the debt ceiling is on the forefront of most people's minds, so I'll focus on that.

Since 1939, before the major US involvement in WWII, there has been a "ceiling" on the amount of money that the US government is allowed to owe.  As of this posting, the "ceiling"$14.46 trillion. Most of the debt that the US owes is actually to the citizens and states in the form of government bonds.  About 47% of the debt is owed to other countries, like China (at about 14%).

For the past six months in the USA, the major question has been the debt ceiling, whether to raise it or not.  The GOP controlling the House at first insisted that the ceiling should not be raised under any circumstances.  Now, their argument is that they would consider raising the ceiling, but not without substantial budget cuts (always to education or public programs but never with an eye on wasteful defense spending) and absolutely under no circumstances with a cent raised in taxes.

The Democrats, currently in direct leadership from President Obama have argued that nearly anyone with half a brain on the issue knows that the best way of dealing with the debt situation is to take a balanced approach.  Substantial cuts, sure, but there has to be an increase in revenue.  The GOP have staunchly refused.  They won't even look at the possibility of closing tax loopholes for higher income tax brackets.

Think about that.  The law is already on the books.  The GOP bemoan that the tax on corporations in the US is the highest in the industrialized world (it's not:  Japan's stands at 40%) and ignore the fact that the rate is topped at 35% and that most corporations don't pay that much.  GM, Bank of America and Citigroup (the major recipients of gov't funding in the previous few years) paid no taxes and BOA got a tax return to the tune of one billion.  By closing loopholes, they simply making the requirements that are already expected of the corporations in the US.

The tragedy of a democratic republic is that, at some point, you're going to have to compromise.  To compromise means that you get something that you want, but you have to give something up in the meantime. Give a little, take a little.  Here with the debt crisis, the GOP have a chance to show that they are reasonable people who are capable of governing.  But they're throwing the chance away.  They are almost going out of their way to make it easier for Obama to get re-elected.

While all this back and forth is going on, an intriguing legal argument is coming up.  The 14th Amendment, which by and large deals with equal rights and the citizenship status of those in the US, but also deals with the question of public debt.  Originally, the clause was inserted to protect the Federal government from people looking to collect money that they had lent to the Confederacy.  In the early 20th century, the Supreme Court went a step further and said that the public debt extended to all the debt that the US government owed.  So, the debt ceiling is unconstitutional and, in another sense, those that pursue to maintain it are acting unconstitutionally.  Which may seem strange for the Republicans, the party that passed a measure that would require that all laws cite what part of the Constitution they draw their powers from, but the GOP have always been selective in their outrage.

So, the real opportunity for the GOP in this instance is to follow the writing of the Constitution and remove the debt ceiling entirely.