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Posts Tagged ‘Obama

The Congressional TP is wrong…and it is killing the GOP.

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Is the New Yorker wrong or has the GOP gone GOP Elephant Closes Governmentover the top? I’m of the opinion that the GOP is hurting themselves for a generation if the most hardline members of their base continue this quixotic campaign. There are a lot of things about the ACA that could and should be fixed that would enable better growth in our economy, but the GOP has not offered any alternatives that fixes the problems of coverage, affordability with consumer protections, or bends the medical cost curve that the nation, as a whole, supports. If the nation had, Romney would be president right now.

What the Republican intransigents were willing to deprive of funds, besides the Capitol police, included the following: The Centers for Disease Control, which said that it would have to stop its seasonal flu-prevention program and would “have significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations.” The Environmental Protection Agency, which would close down almost entirely, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which would stop most of its inspections. The WIC program, which provides healthy food supplements for millions of pregnant women, new mothers, and babies, and could run on temporary federal funds only through the end of the month. The Food and Drug Administration, which said it “will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities,” and would have to halt “the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.” The National Institutes of Health, which announced that it would not be enrolling any new patients in ongoing studies or clinical trials.

Since Tea Party conservatives dislike the federal government on principle, the derailing of what the federal government does every day doesn’t bother them all that much. What should bother them, deeply, is the anti-democratic nature of the maneuver. To hold up a budget and shut down the government in order to sabotage a law you don’t like is not just nose-thumbing at the government; it’s flouting the will of the people. Obamacare passed both Houses of Congress nearly three years ago. In June, 2012, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of its fundamental elements. In November, 2012, Obama, who had devoted much of his political capital to the Affordable Care Act—it will likely be his signature legislation—was handily reëlected. And, last week, on the first day that you could sign up for insurance through the new health-care exchanges, 2.8 million people went on the federal government’s enrollment site. Surely that’s evidence that, whatever else Obamacare will prove to be, it is legislation that is fulfilling a real need: that of the fifteen per cent of the American population who are uninsured, as well as of individuals who are paying exorbitant sums for insurance on the open market, all of whom live with the insecurity of being unable to afford health care. In no small part, fixing this problem was what Barack Obama was elected to do.

In the meantime, the diehard opponents of the bill in Congress remain a faction within their own party, whom fellow-Republicans seem determined to identify by more and more outlandish epithets. To Representative Devin Nunes, a Republican from California’s Central Valley, they are “lemmings with suicide vests.” To Senator John McCain, they’re “wacko birds.” (He used the term in March, when Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz were filibustering the nomination of John Brennan for C.I.A. director; McCain later apologized, but Cruz, according to a profile in GQ, has embraced “wacko bird.”) To Representative Peter King, of New York, Cruz is the “con man” who knew “this would never work” but somehow “suckered” House Republicans. Cruz, meanwhile, compared those Republicans who were willing to vote on the budget—and let Obamacare proceed—to appeasers of the Nazis.

It’s worth remembering that in the early nineteen-sixties, when another health-care bill was under debate, the rhetoric of the Republicans who opposed it was just as over the top. We didn’t get socialism, as those opponents warned; we got Medicare, which turned out to be a very popular, mostly high-functioning program that saves elderly people from going bankrupt when they get sick. In the end, as the President says, that is the kind of outcome that the extremist Republicans running this budget battle fear the most: that Obamacare will work, and the Democrats will get credit for it. And what the mainstream Republicans fear the most is that voters will blame them for letting the lemmings run the show. If Obama refuses to back down, this could be a moment that will define his legacy—a fight for democracy as much as for Democrats. ♦

According to reports, the Dems already accepted the House budget numbers, which, in reality, are lower than the Ryan budget for the 6 week CR. Six weeks! It’s not like we’re talking about a full year, for heaven’s sake. That, in itself, is a great win for House Republicans. But attaching a defunding or delay in the individual mandate – that only applies to individuals who don’t get health insurance through their company – to the CR was always going to be a loser for the GOP which they should have known. First, most of the ACA funding is not part of the discretionary (aka annual) budget. It’s self-funded like Social Security or Medicare. Second, the Dems would never agree to delay it start up until close to the next election, making the ACA again another election year issue.

Moreover, using the debt ceiling as a negotiating strategy, regardless of how much the deficit is hated, is not acceptable. It’s one thing to decry how on the House or Senate floor how much the country is going into debt when you know the increase will happen anyway, but it’s another to threaten the US economy with default on the nation’s promises of payment. The debt limit and promised payments to our all of our nation’s creditors, whoever they may be, should never, ever be put at risk.

Yes, there is an ongoing disagreement over the size of the federal government. Some are good arguments, such as should the US be the world’s police force or have a huge, expensive national security state that infringes upon the rights of privacy of citizens, but some are bad arguments such as throwing the least able into the trash can of history. Can government work better? Clearly the answer is yes. Our federal government continues as a model of the 19th Century. But *only* Congress can change that antiquated model…and that change will only occur when committee power and fundraising models change.

Regardless, PIMCO’s El-Erian notes, the failure to increase to increase the debt ceiling would lead to a Great Depression worldwide and cause irreparable harm to the US in prestige, authority, and, most of all, to our status as the world’s reserve currency and the special borrowing rates that status implies.

Further, China, in 2011, when Congress last threatened the debt ceiling as a serious negotiating point, entered into talks with other BRIC nations to replace the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. China, apparently, received a lot of support among those nations. Does anyone in their right minds believe that China will let go of their ability to reduce the status of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency when it obviously is in their own interest to reduce the influence of the US? Although the Chinese did not say as much publicly, I am quite sure they would like the Renminbi become the world’s reserve currency.

If US voters do not understand the perils on the world stage and to the US economy of the Tea Party strategy, then God help us all.

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Written by Valerie Curl

October 9, 2013 at 9:23 PM

America the Stupid!

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There is a growing movement among the Tea Party and the far right to impeach President Obama. Buzzfeed today wrote story about a book, published by World Net Daily which is a far right, conspiracy theory addicted website, that espouses all the reasons why Obama should be impeached.

A new book making the case for the impeachment of President Barack Obama is flying off the shelves, its author said, as the president’s reelection fails to entirely damp down the deep loathing of him on parts of the right.

Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office cites everything from the attack on the American consulate and CIA outpost in Benghazi — which it compares to the Iran Contra scandal in the Reagan years — to the way Obamacare was passed, which the authors say constitutes “taxation without representation.” The book, by WABC radio host Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliott, an anti-Obama blogger, also includes American military action in Libya and the Transportation Security Administration’s passenger screenings as impeachable offenses.

The problem for this book and the conspiracy theorists is that all their claims are fallacious or just hypocritical…or far worse. On foreign policy, Obama has continued Bush policies outside of starting wars of choice as Bush did. On internal, domestic spying, Obama continued the policies of Bush’s Administration. On Executive signings, Obama has used that method far less that Bush did…and only within legal and SCOTUS demanded requirements or his legal powers at head of the Administration. On regulations, his record shows he’s enacted fewer regulations than the anti-regulation Bush Administration. On sticking to regulatory timelines, Obama is no more guilty than any other administration. For example, Dodd-Frank is nearly 2 years behind in setting most of its rules yet no one is complaining, but somehow the rules on ACA have to be met on time even when businesses have asked for clarifications and simplification and HHA acceded those requests.

Should I continue?

I hardly think is it necessary. There are lots of reasons why Americans of all flavor dislike Obama. Some are solid and some are idiotically specious. But to those asking for his impeachment, allow me to ask these questions:

1) Would you prefer President Biden? Remember that Biden is far more liberal than Obama. Compared to Biden, Obama is downright conservative. Moreover, Biden’s decades in the Senate would make him a much tougher negotiator. He could very well be an incarnation of LBJ.

2) If you hate the national security state, why do you continue to vote for legislators who voted for the Patriot Act and NDAA? Regardless of what you may think or wish, the President, regardless of party affiliation, must follow the legislation that Congress passes. You don’t like the national security laws, then stop voting for the Congressional legislators who enacted and continually approve of these laws.

3) The whole Bengazi uproar is idiotic. American embassies and consulates throughout the troubled Middle East and Northern Africa have been targets for over two decades. How many American embassies and consulates were targeted and bombed during the GW Bush and Clinton Administrations? The insanity of perverted jehadism will continue regardless of presidential political party affiliation until Arab nations say enough and use their own power, influence and money to end it.

4) If you hate Obama because of his skin color, doesn’t that say more about you than him? I spent many years as a White child and young adult living in the deep South where Racism reigned supreme. It was ugly, cruel, and wrong. God did not differentiate between peoples based on skin color; He differentiated between people based on the moral values of compassion, respect, consideration, thoughtfulness, and consideration. And still does, as Jesus said over and over again.

5) If you think Obama is some kind of hidden Black Panther racist, then why has he excoriated the Black community, and especially Black fathers, over and over again for not meeting their familial obligations and responsibilities while at the same time not saying a word about White guys who run away from their children and responsibilities?

There are a lot of other conspiracy theories I could debunk, but those who deliberately choose to believe them will never be convinced because they adamantly refuse to change their thinking. Reason, rationality, and logic play no part in their lives. Hate is all that matters, for whatever reason.

The last time the US went through this kind of political and social insanity was during the 1930s because people were scared, confused, and became targets of self-indulgent, ego-centric individuals and organizations that played on people’s fears for their own self interest. This time is worse because of the President’s skin color. But skin color is only…skin color. A physiological development, caused by the pigment melanin, as a result of genetic adaption to sunlight over multiple generations. For example, the onlu reason Northern Europeans have light skin color, blue eyes, narrow noses, and light colored hair is because less melanin was required genetically, over thousands of years, to withstand the sun’s rays.

As a result, skin color has less to do with intelligence than adaptation to climate. Given the same economic and social advantages, all races perform the same, as science has proved.

As a result of scientific and social conclusions, it becomes quite clear that the current hatred of Obama has less to do with his policies and more to do with who is he physically and politically. And those are not good enough reasons for impeachment.

The Constitution states that impeachment of a president can only occur because of “High crimes and misdemeanors.” Think about what that phrase means: murder, perversion of governmental, administrative powers for one’s own benefit, lying to Congress on matter of national importance, etc. None of these criteria have occurred under Obama, except perhaps the national security state which can equally be blamed on Congress and Chief Justice Roberts. Would you chose to impeach Roberts for appointing the FISA court justices who approved the warrentless wiretapping? Would you chose to impeach you local representative because he or she approved the Patriot Act or NDAA that allowed such actions to occur?

United States Americans have to clean up their act and start acting responsibly rather than politically. Tribalism destroys countries and societies. That may be why ancient Greeks developed a governing creed based on logic and not only the denial of emotions but the destruction of all emotions.

The far right and far left depend upon emotion over logic. As many problems exist with Stoicism, it still beats the kind of emotional irrationality that dominates today’s political conversation.

Written by Valerie Curl

August 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I’m disgusted

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Student Loan Bonanza

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Over the last five years I’ve become more and more disgusted by both our federal government and our financial industry as a result of our entire country, and government, becoming financialized. All that matters now is how much profit can be made, regardless of the consequences to human lives, and protecting the worse financial actors from the recent financial meltdown that caused a worldwide recession.

A couple of days ago, Matt Taibbi, wrote a lengthy piece in Rolling Stone Magazine about the student loan scandal that threaten our nation’s economy.

Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal
The federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education – saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy

I didn’t read this story two days ago when it was published. I wish I had since my voice now will make little difference – everyone’s moved on to the next scandal or reality show highlights. 

However much Taibbi’s rhetoric seems over the top, his actual story is accurate. A couple of years ago, the Higher Ed. journal he mentions published a story on the rapidly rising cost of a college education.

Although the journal didn’t go into the whole funding of students loans issue, the publication did lay most of the blame on institutions that went on a spending binge during the last decade, which universities defended as needing to do to “attract students”. According to the schools, competition among colleges required spas, hot tubs, outrageously expensive sports stadiums, cafeterias rivaling the best restaurants, and so much more. 



Money was cheap so colleges spent lavishly, expecting the public through taxes, to pick up the bill even as students were being saddled with higher tuition costs. Not long after that journal article came news of the UC Berkeley Chancellor being given a million dollar salary and a completely renovated (real) mansion (at the UC system) multi-million dollar expense. Within months, news broke of other chancellors receiving million dollar incomes…and other expensive perks. Like the dramatic increase in C-suite salaries, competition, you know. 



Then as the states’ began to deal with massive lost revenues following the financial crash, states cut back on higher educational funding, putting even more pressure on students in yet higher tuition costs. Even now under Obama’s Administration, as Taibbi notes, the federal government expects to make billions of dollars in profit off of student loans, especially since students cannot discharge those loans under bankruptcy. Nor were students and parents informed or warned of the hazards and total costs of those government backed loans. Now, we have millions of our young people’s lives being destroyed by the cost of loans they never understood and never expected.

To those of us who were paying attention, the inability of discharge student loans in bankruptcy is old news. The GOP Congress, under Bush 2, pushed it through, even though huge numbers of groups and people lobbied against it at the same time they turned over the student loan program to banks. What happened under that GOP sponsored and driven legislation is that student loans became one of only two financial obligations that cannot be erased in bankruptcy. The other is taxes owed. 



Taibbi is also correct about the degree requirement for even low skill workers. When I worked for Oracle back in the ’90s, even our receptionists were required to have 4-year degrees. Why, I have no idea; it’s not like someone answering the phone and forwarding calls needs an elevated education. 

Yet, in our increasing “information” economy, a degree has become a necessity…unless you agree with the recent GOP mantra that only some should attain a degree while the vast majority should forego college. To become what: checkers at Walmart or burger flippers at McDonalds? Even getting into a qualified tradesman program (not hyped for-profit ripoff programs), like plumbing or carpentry which cannot be outsourced, that actually trains apprentices and helps them with jobs are few and far between.

I keep asking but no one answers, why do we citizens continue to permit our entire economy to be financialized to the detriment of millions of families, both now and in the future? Why do we allow ourselves to be conned and lied to and abused? Why aren’t we fighting back not only with our votes but with our power to demand changes in electoral laws that protect our interests, rather than just the interests of the powerful, wealthy and connected?

As long as the voting public unwisely protects the lobbyists and wealthy donors who have far more power, influence, donor money, and ability to get their preferred message listened to and across to legislators, average Americans, and our future generations, will be nothing more than insignificant chess pawns.

It’s obvious that Obama is not really going to stand up for you. Neither will anyone on the GOP bench. Supply side, neo-liberal economics which has destroyed our jobs and our economy is all the GOP offers. And Obama’s Administration is not a whole lot better. Obama is not a progressive or a socialist or liberal. He’s center right on almost every issue. Even Republican TR was more progressive and more concerned about average Americans and new businesses and against the excesses of Wall St than Obama has been.

But nothing…absolutely nothing…will change until we voters demand that the entire campaign financing system be rebuilt from the bottom up. Corporations, so-called non-profit Super-PACs and unions are not people as all of our founders concluded and should not have First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. They are nothing more than legal fictions, which our greatest legal minds stated long ago. Moreover, TR eloquently wrote when money became heavily involved in the political process, corruption occurred either by bribery of legislators or by legislators blackmailing companies. In both cases, the public loses even as legislators grow more wealthy.

The current system of financialization of our entire economy and political bribery and blackmail are killing our country and destroying the lives of our children and grandchildren. Just throwing these “bums” out and replacing them with another set of bums changes nothing since the incentives remain the same. Nothing will change but the faces. If America is to recover, the voters must demand new and strict new election donor laws, including a Constitutional Amendment and prohibitions on party gerrymandering, that puts power back into hands of voters again.

As voters, parents and workers, we must demand real change that protects our interests. Ask and demand all legislative candidates promise in their first term to promote election changes that prohibit lobbying donations and lobbyists writing legislation, make all campaign donations even to SuperPacs transparent and online within 24 hours, and a Constitutional Amendment that eliminates all non-human entities First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.

Written by Valerie Curl

August 17, 2013 at 3:54 PM

The Status Quo is Not Enough

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Throughout most of November I was sick so I neglected my regular posts. In addition, it seemed as though far too many American voters just don’t care enough about what was and is happening and who continues to influence Congressional members (for example, per Pew Poll results (pdf): 61% of those polled have never heard of Grover Norquist). It’s doubly hard to maintain a positive attitude and seek to change the national dialog when so many voters don’t have a clue as to what is going on and don’t seem to care. Nevertheless, I will continue to try because I do care about my country: the country my ancestors helped found and defend for nearly 300 years.

So, here’s my editorial of the day…and maybe the week.

House Speaker Boehner, President Obama, Minority Leader Senator McConnell

Regarding the upcoming debt ceiling fight that Senator Graham (R- SC) announced this week, I’m sure Republicans believe that Obama will give in again rather than risk the nation’s credit rating and default on the debt as he did last year. However, given Obama’s recent sharp rhetoric to the nation’s business leaders, he’s very likely to allow the GOP to shut the government down rather than give in to them. As a result, the interest on the debt and the military will be paid. Beyond that, who knows.

All other payments will depend upon how much existing and incoming cash exists for any other payments. Further, it’s possible interest rates on the debt will increase which will exacerbate the debt situation, and defaulting on the debt – or even putting the debt in jeopardy of default – will put our national ability to retain the dollar as the world’s reserve currency at risk. Being the world’s reserve currency gives the US enormous latitude in cheap borrowing costs (safe haven for investments) that other nations simply do not have. China has been lobbying the BRICs for the last couple of years to end the dollar as the reserve currency in favor of another currency, presumably theirs. Just think how much more leverage a debt default will give China in its arguments against the dollar…and the US.

Nevertheless, once the GOP begins feeling the heat from their various constituents and donors as well as from the nation’s CEOs, they’ll back off and raise the debt ceiling. But by then the damage will already have been done to the nation’s credit rating as well a having put another knife in the heart of the GOP.

For those of you who believe that ending the GOP control of the House in the next election is eminent as a result of their intransigence and, frankly, economic stupidity, let me remind you of Republican gerrymandering in 2010. That gerrymandering will enable the House to remain in GOP hands until at least the next census in 2020 unless many of those GOP controlled districts suddenly turn blue. The only way to turn those gerrymandered GOP districts will become blue is for the Dems to have better policies and policy arguments that address the needs of ordinary middle income voters (jobs, income security, opportunity, economic growth, etc.) while at the same time putting our fiscal house in order.

Right now, the Dems need to focus on creating a new progressive movement to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Globalization is not going to go away, nor should it. Globalization has caused billions around the world to rise out of poverty. That’s a really good thing that Dems should applaud. Besides, unless the US wants a global trade war, it just ain’t gonna happen.

However, the Dems can create policies that address the immediate and long term challenges of globalization via better education (see Finland and Singapore, for example); a tax code that is fair both vertically and horizontally including eliminating much of needless spending on legacy industries; an improved patent system that enables/fosters innovation rather than suppresses innovation (see Ford vs owners of the Selden Patent); a reduction in the financialization of the US economy through better, more effective regulations and rules that puts (as in rewards) capital to work in the real economy rather than in speculation and short term investments/trading; and rebuilds/renews our national infrastructure to compete in the 21st century, and a host of other policies that encourages higher wages which make income subsidies unnecessary and irrelevant.

Meanwhile, Dems should push to reform the federal government to streamline it and make it more efficient. For example, think about the DHS for a moment. Has the DHS made the nation’s security branches more effective or efficient? Have the many national security branches worked together better and more effectively? Has the monies allocated to DHS over the last 10 years been effectively and efficiently spent – or has Congress doled out the cash in its usual inefficient, vote getting, pork laden manner?

Our federal government is based on an early 20th Century model that has grown exponentially while not becoming more efficient or effective. Obama spoke a couple of years ago during his State of the Union message about this problem and asked Congress to help/authorize him collapse departments and consolidate similar programs. Congress did nothing in response. Nothing! Because doing so means loss of generous donors (“Mr. CEO, we’re thinking about changing the law…”) as well as loss of individual, personal power via chairmanships and other important committee positions. Yet, the GOP felt perfectly comfortable in the last election attacking Obama for not making the federal government more efficient by consolidating similar programs (i.e., employment programs); yet, only Congress has the power to do so since Congress took the power to collapse department and consolidate programs away from the President many decades ago.

Beyond these suggestions, Dems need to better communicate their ideas and policies. Essentially, they need a wordsmith like Frank Luntz on their side of the political spectrum. It’s not enough to have better policy ideas if they cannot communicate how those ideas will make lives better for the broader populace. Superior communications ability is what caused FDR to win all but about 7 electoral votes in his second election.

Moreover, Dems need an antidote to the Tea Party. It’s not appropriate to winning elections to deride the Tea Party as no-nothings or radicals or whatever. You don’t win elections by deriding and denigrating nearly half the voters.

Dems, across the board, and their supporters must understand the motives of the Tea Party and their supporters and build communications scripts that speak to their needs and fears as well as their hopes and longings. Deriding them does nothing but create more antagonism and stubborn hatred. Instead, answer their fears with understanding and assurances that we all, from whatever party allegiances, seek the same goal of a sustainable and prosperous country where everyone can find or achieve his/her dreams. In addition, Dems need to form a broad coalition of activists, akin to the Tea Party, to influence not only the national conversation as the Tea Party has but to influence primaries, even in Red State gerrymandered districts.

Finally, Dems need to work diligently to remove money from politics. As long as both sides of aisle depend upon corporate and special interest funding via lobbying dollars and PACs and hugely funded outside organizations (501(c)4s) like American Crossroads or Americans for Prosperity, nothing will ever change for the good of the American people at large. Right now, both sides of aisle award the highest fundraisers with chairmanships and other committee perks. Not on expertise or knowledge of the subject matter. (Thanks, Newt! We, the American people, really needed your putting fundraising dollars, in the mid 90s, ahead of subject matter knowledge and expertise.) But rather on their ability to fund raise.

The current scenario is not that much different than the early 1900s “Millionaires Congress” in which Congressional candidates and members were openly bought by millionaires. Even McKinley’s presidency was purchased by our Gilded Age millionaires. Our founders expected Congress to reflect the will of the people – their voting constituents – rather than those who through large donations buy and write legislation and seats. Yet, it’s not enough in this era of partisan politics to denounce via hyperbole our modern days millionaires (Koch Bros, Addelson, etc.), Dems must explain – clearly, succinctly and simply – why the ideas of those groups and people are wrong for America at large…and how their policy ideas will harm/hurt average American families – in which Dems very much believe – in our global economy and in our local and state communities.

Lastly, Dems must communicate a better understanding of the rising libertarian movement within the GOP. Even though Friedman’s neo-liberal financial movement gained wide support throughout the country, it’s fallacious underpinnings have begun to crumble worldwide, especially in the BRIC countries.

Moreover, classical libertarianism, as espoused by Heyak, is not opposed to many Dems policies, such as retirement security (i.e. social security) and national health care. Hayek, in a published paper (pdf) for a Chicago audience, stated that he was not a conservative but a classical liberal, meaning he did not look back at the past but towards the future and all it might hold. In addition, he stated that many of the changes which the future might hold would necessitate the state providing income security (i.e, unemployment benefits and retirement) and national health care to the masses. He saw these benefits as not evils but as beneficial and appropriate for social stability.

Dems should be proclaiming what Hayek said as akin to their philosophy along with libertarian ideology against perpetual war and loss of individual freedoms per the NDAA and Patriot Act. True libertarians, not the Ayn Rand Koch Bros version, are natural allies of Dems, if only Dems would wake up to that fact. Where Hayek and Dems differ is on regulation. Hayek lived during the rise of Communism and feared Stalinism, with good reason. But Stalin’s – and even Mao’s – Communism was defeated; the modern state is not going to now or ever control the means and ownership of production. The new free market state must fear, instead, the ownership of production and innovation by the few powerful. And this is where Friedman’s policies appear to break down because he did not address, in the larger public economic context, the rise of economic and political powerhouses to buy and shape policy that control the societal benefits of the larger political audience – the average voters. Hayek, while he was ultimately wrong, and yet right in his fear regarding the issue of Communism and Socialism, given the world’s turn towards free market capitalism, was an important voice of that era and, thus, his support for income security and health care should also provide mutually important points of discussion among Dems and true libertarians.

Moreover, an alliance with those young anti war-forever libertarians just might break the back of neo-con Republicans at the ballot box. Dems are not the party of forever wars or American imperialism. That ideology is a Cheney, et al, belief. It is not traditionally American nor does it reflect traditional American values. As a result, Dems could, if they used their powers of persuasion and understanding, move those young anti-imperialistic libertarians from the GOP into the Dem column, especially if Dems, as a policy platform, also openly promoted fair, open and honest financial industry dealings.

As I said, Dems need to create a new Progressive Era with entirely new policies that meet the challenges of a globalized 21st Century while reassuring average middle and working income voters that their voices are being heard and that the nation is becoming fiscally sound and secure. But as long as Dems keep fighting old wars and allowing the GOP – and the monied class – to set the agenda and dominate the national conversation, a new progressive movement cannot take place. A new TR cannot rise to the top until the nation is ready for a new progressive era. Thus, the job of every Dem should be to promote and discuss new, progressive ideas.

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Related articles:

Jim DeMint: The Fireman Ed of Politics

Five People Politico Should Have Called for Its Terrible Article on Fixing the Economy

Written by Valerie Curl

December 12, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Romney Scores “Pants on Fire” By Politifact

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GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

An independent project of the Tampa Bay Times, Poltifact scored Team Romney’s latest campaign ads and statements in 19 different statements as “pants on fire.” The list and graphics are too extensive to post so go here to see them for yourself.

By contrast Obama scored only one “pants on fire.”

So, let me ask you this question: If you reward Romney by electing him president, how could you trust a President Romney to tell you the truth when he’s learned, from you, that lying works?

Maybe the morals and ethics – personal integrity and honor – of the nation have changed since my parents, grandparents and Church taught me the difference between right and wrong and to behave with integrity, honesty and honor. Romney is of my generation and my age so I know he was taught these same values. Yet, he has chosen, in this campaign, to disregard all he was taught while growing up about central personal values.

I’m not so naive to believe that politicians always tell the exact truth. They shade and spin the truth to their advantage. But to vote for someone who blatantly lies on a regular basis seems inconceivable to me. How could you ever possibly believe he would be truthful with you once he’s elected?

I am appalled that national polls show Romney tied with Obama. Are Americans really so easily misled and naive? Or is the hatred for Obama so strong, even though his policies saved the nation from another devastating Great Depression, that even a serial liar is an acceptable alternative?

Written by Valerie Curl

October 31, 2012 at 4:57 PM

No Principles

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2012 Presidential Candidates Romney and Obama

When I first read this story in The New Republic, I was shocked and disgusted. Now, I’m disgusted and appalled.

As you may have heard, Romney on Thursday scared the bejeezus out of Ohio autoworkers when, during a rally, he cited a story claiming that Chrysler was moving Jeep production to China. Thousands of people work at a sprawling Jeep complex in Toledo and a nearby machining plant. Many thousands more work for suppliers or have jobs otherwise dependent on the Jeep factories. It’s fair to say that they owe their jobs to President Obama, who in 2009 rescued Chrysler and General Motors from likely liquidation. If Chrysler moved the plants overseas, most of those people would be out of work.

The story turns out to be wrong. As Chrysler made clear the very next day, in a tartly worded blog post on the company website, officials have discussed opening plants in China in order to meet rising demand for vehicles there. They have no plans to downsize or shutter plants in the U.S. On the contrary, Fiat, the Italian company that acquired Chrysler during the rescue, just spent $1.7 billion to expand Jeep production in the U.S. That includes $500 million to renovate and expand the Toledo facilities, with 1,000 new factory jobs likely to follow. On Monday, about the same number of people will report for their first day of work in Detroit, when Chrysler adds a third shift to a Jeep plant it operates there.

The campaign does not appear to have announced the ad. The Obama campaign captured video of it, during a broadcast in the Toledo area. Here’s how it ends:

    Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.

Although the statements about Chrysler are true individually, together they imply that the Obama Administration’s action led to the outsourcing of American jobs. That is obviously false, both in the specific sense of what Chrysler is doing and in the more general sense of what the entire auto industry is doing. Just look at the numbers (or the graph below). According to the Bureau of Labor of Statistics, the number of autoworkers fell almost in half between 2002 and 2009, from around 1.1 million to around 600,000, as the industry was in something like a death spiral. Then, as Chrysler and GM were on the brink of true collapse, the Obama Administration stepped in with federal loans and a managed bankruptcy. Almost immediately, the automobile manufacturing sector started growing again. Since July, 2009, the workforce has risen by about 150,000 jobs and that’s purely in manufacturing. If you include parts manufacturing and other related jobs, it’s 250,000.

Auto Employment

And that’s the net increase. By providing Chrysler and GM with the financing they needed to avoid liquidation, the Obama Administration prevented those companies from putting more people out of work. Overall, according to estimates by the Center for Automotive Research, the rescue probably saved at least a million jobs.

Of course, this kind of deception is emblematic of the campaign Romney and his supporters have waged in the last few days. They insist that Romney never thought government should let Chrysler and GM collapse. But Romney’s vague and inconsistent rhetoric included statements that he would have opted for a “private sector bailout”—something that was not possible in 2009, because private investors were in no position to make the necessary loans.* As Detroit Free Press columnist Tom Walsh wrote on Friday,

    Throughout the primary campaign, [Romney] joined other Republican candidates in a chorus of bailout-bashing and union-bashing when the auto bailouts came up, painting the Obama administration’s crisis-management effort as a reckless campaign to run up the national debt and do favors for labor unions.

Romney and the Republicans were wrong then and they are still wrong. But Romney has gone beyond normal political bounds.

Politics is often a dirty, nasty business, and politicians do lie and mislead. However, Team Romney chose to go well beyond the bounds of normal decency with this blatant attempt to scare workers with closure of their plant – and loss of their jobs – when no such plans exist in order to win votes.

With this ad and similarly misleading talking points, Romney has exposed his complete lack of principles and ethics. He has stepped well over the boundary of decency and proven that he will say and do anything to achieve his desired goal of becoming president.

The final question remaining is if Romney is elected president how many other unprincipled lies and deceits will he conjure to achieve his own ends. Where is his conscience and what are his ethics?

I’ve been watching politics, in particular presidential politics, since the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and I have never seen a more deceitful, unprincipled campaign as Romney’s. Even Nixon’s paranoia and criminal campaign did not disgust this much.

Team Romney’s unprincipled attempt to scare workers with the loss of their jobs for purely self-interested reasons should be enough to disqualify Romney. There is no excuse – none whatsoever – for deceptively scaring workers with the loss of their jobs. It’s sleezy, disgusting, and reprehensible.

Additional Note: I hope my readers will send this blog or the links to their friends, especially to those in swing states. Romney is not qualified.
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Important political stories:

Why Freddie Mac Resisted Refis

How to Act Human, Take Two: The Search for the Real Romney By James Lipton

Preventing National Decline

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Presidential Candidates Romney and Obama

I’ll be honest, I want Obama to win. Not because he’s a great president. We would need another TR or FDR for that. But campaign costs and the way campaigns are funded, along with Citizens United, make a real reformer president unlikely at present. Look what happened to Obama. He told Wall St during the ’08 campaign that he would raise their taxes and reform the financial system; when he actually tried they revolted to the tune of half a billion dollars in negative ads and lobbying.

Nevertheless, Romney will be a disaster as president.

This afternoon, I spent time reading some of my favorite financial and economics blogs: Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s Baseline Scenario and Jesse’s Café Americain. Through their blogs, I clicked over to a blog by Judge Richard Posner, appointed by Reagan, who now sounds more liberal than modern conservative Republican; then onto an interview with Glen Hubbard, Romney’s leading economics adviser (ugh, what a arrogant sleeze!); and then found a new blog, Capitalism Without Failure.

In each blog, I became more firmly convinced that if Romney is elected, Wall St and the uber wealthy will win; that we average people, like you and me, not only don’t count in their considerations, we’re irrelevant; and that any chance to reform the financial system into becoming a system that provides capital to businesses rather than a high stakes, high risk gambling casino will fail. Most of all, if the nation continues to celebrate the “greed is good” and “me first and only” ideology that has been fostered over the last 30 years, the nation will see another devastating depression within a few years. It will be far worse than the Great Recession and would likely spark violent revolutions worldwide.

Yesterday, I read a Business Week Charlie Rose interview with Jeremy Grantham who owns a highly successful equity fund business. He, too, is sincerely worried about coming events that the GOP ignores or has convinced its base is irrelevant or misleading (pdf). He told Charlie the U.S. is in for a major fall if it doesn’t wake up to what is going on worldwide and here at home.

Over and over again, I read the hazards that await the country if this nation doesn’t change paths. Obama, I believe, is attempting to change those paths if not well, considering the legacy of monied forces arrayed against him and his innate desire to cut a deal rather than being the progressive reformer TR was.

Romney, on the other hand, is a continuation of GW Bush on steroids, and the GOP Congress is worse. In Bloomberg View, Jonathan Alter writes that if Romney is elected, not only will we not know which Romney shows up at any particular moment, he’ll be constantly looking over his shoulder to the GOP Congress to see how he should act and what he should say. He’ll be led along by Norquist, DeMint, and Blackrock’s Schwartzman to name a few. Ryan will probably control the budget, just as Cheney controlled energy and national security.

Our nation is already suffering OECD ratings losses in a variety of competitive areas, from education to equity and mobility to loss of new business start ups to income security to health care to governmental ability to resolve problems and issues. Given the Romney-Ryan budget plans, neo-con national security advisers, and the whole far right wing conservative movement of the GOP, I cannot conceive of a Romney administration increasing the nation’s OECD competitive ratings…or even Harvard’s Business School Review’s competitive rankings.

It’s hard for me to believe that so many people have been conned by Romney. He’s a chameleon whose only beliefs are his destiny to become president (fulfilling Daddy’s dream?) and that the wealthy are superior beings. The US cannot be run as if it’s an LBO in the making. Or at least it should not be. As John Winthrop told his small community of colonists back in the early 1600s, the community needed to needed to take care of each other as Jesus required. And only in ensuring the economic viability and equitable opportunity of every colonist would that community become the “shining city on the hill” – the light of Jesus.

Yet, now, nearly one half of the nation would choose to elect a man, and a party, who choose to negate everything Winthrop told his Puritan parishioners and which that colony worked so diligently to achieve in terms of equity and opportunity, from free schools to physical and monetary care for the poor and disabled to income taxation based on ability to pay without causing family harm for the general needs of the commonweal.

There are plenty of things about which dislike the Obama Administration. But a Romney administration would be even worse – not by any stretch of the imagination better. Romney would lead the nation down the path of Depression and aggressive selfishness.

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