Thursday, August 25, 2011

Obama Makes the Great Lady Smile

Three hundred thousand people in America should be cheering Obama, as should we all. Fed up with Congress refusing to fix our immigration law, Obama just did it by himself. Or at least part of it. This past week his administration announced that there would be no more deportations except those of criminals.

The immediate effect is that 300,000 immigrants already in the deportation system can breath more easily. It will still take an act of Congress to change their "illegal" status, but for now they can go on with their lives. Raising their families. Loving their loved ones. Finishing college. Serving in the military. Working at jobs they care about. Starting businesses. Being Americans. In one cancelled deportation case, a young man in Florida can now continue his studies for the priesthood. No knock on the door in the night. No more frightened groups of people hiding in Catholic Churches for sanctuary.

And, yes, the new policy will respect same sex unions.

Other "illegal" immigrants not yet tagged by the deportation system  -  the millions of them  -   are also delivered from fear. At least for now.

And the boss of Intel, CEO Paul Otellini, can smile too. He took a bit of time off from running his giant company to serve on Obama's commission re improving the economy. He urged that foreigners who are educated in America be allowed to stay and work here. Why train doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, etc. and then boot them out. We need them!

Among the foreigners educated here are the ones who are going to create jobs with "the next big thing" in electronics or who-knows-what. Immigrants start more companies than the native-born. Go to Silicon Valley and check that out. And they contribute in other ways. They pick the food that goes on our tables. There is no more honorable nor harder work than to feed the people. And immigrants contribute ideas. It was a science student from China who got the idea of the "cocktail" approach in treating HIV/AIDS. And because of immigration we are one of the few industrial nations that is not shrinking in population. These are the folks who could help pay YOUR Social Security and Medicare!

So now they can stay. But for how long? Only for as long as Obama is president. The reprieve may only last seventeen months.

If the GOP gets the presidency in 2012, heartache will follow for millions of our fellow residents. We can't let that happen to the brothers and sisters, can we? Think about them when you get cross with Obama not running things the way you think he should. Work hard for his re-election for their sake and for the sake of what they can contribute to our country.

Hey, forty thousand of the illegal immigrants are my Irish cousins!

And how can we make the terror of deportation go away permanently? First, we have to change 24 seats in the House from GOP to Democratic. There will NEVER be reform of the immigration law while the Tea Party-controlled GOP holds the House. With the House out of Tea Party GOP control, the reform of immigration law becomes at least a possibility.

So the Great Lady is smiling now out there in the harbor, her arm still lifting her lamp beside the golden door. We are all the children of immigrants (except our Native American brothers and sisters, of course). Let's not forget that the Great Lady has smiled on us by accepting our kin when they arrived. If we forget what we owe this country and begrudge it to others, may the Native Americans send us all back where we came from!

Let's pay it forward by re-electing Obama and changing those 24 seats in Congress! Yes, we should!

Dorothy Democrat

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wisconsin, Ohio, and Three Ghosts Walking

The GOP governors of Wisconsin and Ohio have seen a ghost and are now singing a different song.  The ghost is Joe Hill, the long-ago labor martyr who inspired perhaps the most "haunting" of union songs. And this old song that Governors Walker and Kasich are newly singing?

                                  I thought I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.  
                                  Says I, "But, Joe, you're ten years dead."
                                  "I never died," said he.

Actually, Walker and Kasich thought they had killed off ol' Joe Hill in the November 2010 elections that brought the GOP to power in Wisconsin and Ohio. But the Democrats and labor had an amazing win in Wisconsin a few weeks ago (see my earlier blog on that), successfully recalling two GOP state senators in GOP districts. This kind of thing virtually NEVER happens in elective politics! It was downright supernatural!

Joe Hill is alive and well  -  extremely alive and extremely well  -  in the Midwest. Labor is not dead nor feeble.

The media missed the significance of the Wisconsin result, instead harping on Democrats/labor not winning three seats so as to have a one-vote majority in the state senate. (They actually have a possible third vote in one GOP state senator.) But Governors Walker and Kasich understood all too well what had happened. They saw the miracle that Democrats/labor had pulled off. They saw Joe Hill's ghost, not in a dream but as their nightmare.

And so they have come, each with hat in hand, to ask labor and the Democrats for a truce. Indeed, Kasich of Ohio wants "to negotiate" with labor about modifying the union-busting law he rammed through in the early days of his administration.

Irony? Kasich wants "to negotiate" about a new law that virtually kills the unions' power to negotiate!

Walker of Wisconsin, who faces a possible recall election next year, just wants to make nice with Democrats/labor, as reported yesterday in the New York Times. Really? After sending out troopers to arrest recalcitrant Democratic state senators a few months ago?

Joe Hill has apparently scared Walker out of his few senses!

And what of the other two ghosts referred to in the title of this posting? They walk because Scary Rick Perry may be setting the stage for a repeat of what happened to JFK and Stevenson in Texas in 1963. When Scary Perry talked last week about Fed chairman Ben Bernanke being "treated ugly" if he came to Texas, old horrors arose. Remember November? November 22, 1963?  Dealy Plaza?  The "ugly treatment" Texas handed out that day?

"We shall bear the grief of his death until the day of our own." So wrote Adlai Stevenson of the assassination of our beloved John Fitzgerald Kennedy. And he was right. We still bear that grief. And we still wonder what the world and America might have been but for Dallas.

And we remember the "ugly treatment" Texas inflicted on Stevenson just before Kennedy was killed.  Stevenson was then Kennedy's ambassador to the United Nations. Why Stevenson went to Texas that autumn of '63, I don't recall, but the images of what happened there are indelible. A mob surrounded Stevenson and spat on him and struck him with picket signs. I still see their hate-contorted faces.

Stevenson tried to warn Kennedy not to go to Dallas because of the "ugly" mood there. Some of the grief Stevenson bore after the assassination was, he later said, the remorse he felt that he hadn't been more forceful in persuading JFK to stay the hell out of Texas.

In spite of this chilling, anguished history, Scary Rick Perry is strutting the "ugly" reality of the Texas culture of guns and violence. Texas kills a lot of people. More executions than any other state by a long shot (no pun intended but it's a good one). It is also the only state  -  so we were taught twenty-five years ago in law school  -  that allows you to shoot someone in "self-defense" even if you have a reasonable and safe retreat at hand. "Shoot first and ask questions later."

Worse, Perry is saying it's okay to be "ugly" with government officials you disagree with. Sort of like those Tea Party people who spat on Democratic Congress members who were walking into the Capitol Building to vote for the health insurance reform bill back in 2009. Above them, on the balcony, GOP Congress members cheered for the spitting, fist-waving fanatics. And what about a member of Congress shot in the head in Arizona, Texas' gun-culture-sharing neighbor? Even if the shooter was insane, how did he come to pick that victim and those who were there beside her?

Please, President Obama. Don't go to Texas. Or Arizona. Or the other "shoot first" places. Let the red states gnaw on their red meat. Stay within the true blue states. Please.

And somebody tell Perry to knock it off!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chinese Are Riding to the Rescue?

"Where Will Jobs Come From?" asked a New York Times front page headline recently. Two columns away on the same front page was a story about Chinese investors coming to NY City and buying up derelict properties to build new enterprises. Doesn't the NY Times read its own stories and think about them?

Obviously the Chinese investment in those sites is small potatoes, but it will produce jobs in construction now, with more jobs to follow in the new businesses housed in the new buildings. This is good. Let's hope the Chinese expand this form of direct investment in the USA. It's one way of returning to us some of those dollars they are sitting on from the trade imbalance.

And that's the real problem in the world's economy and ours, isn't it? Too much money has sloshed to one side of the game board. Commerce is a sort of game, and we all know what happens when one player in Monopoly has all the play money: Game Over! China (and the very rich of the USA) have got to find ways to get money into the hands of the other players. The Chinese and the very rich have a lot more to lose from a Game Over situation than do any of the rest of us. That's because they have more dollars to lose than anyone else. And, if things get really bad, they have further to fall. Like into a revolution!

Already the Chinese populace is getting restive and a bit noisy. They want the chance to be consumers. China's hoarding of capital for investment keeps the Chinese from being buyers, as does China's lopsided trade policies and currency manipulation. Since it's always the middle class that makes revolutions (usually because of thwarted rising expectations), China's leaders can't afford to ignore the demands of their growing middle class. Nor can they ignore the shrinking buying power of Americans. Without us as buyers for their stuff, the Chinese are toast. And its a two-slice toaster: they lose us as customers and they risk we default on the trillion we owe them.

The rich in the USA also are in peril if things get really bad. The inhumane economic inequities of the Robber Baron/Gilded Age brought on Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting and the enormous reforms of the Populist and Progressive parties at the turn-of-the-20th-century. The Great Depression brought on the mighty reforms of the New Deal. These reforms didn't wipe out the rich. The rich did, however, have to endure hefty regulation, a more level playing field, unions as a "countervailing force" (thank you, John Kenneth Galbraith!), and VERY high income tax rates. In my young years, the highest tax bracket was about 90%!

Warren Buffett is old enough and smart enough to know these things, to know how pendulums swing. His plea this week that "Congress stop coddling billionaires" is not without self-interest.

If more business leaders had a little more self-interest, they would stop supporting a Tea-Party-dominated GOP. As demonstrated in the recent and unnecessary debt ceiling debacle, the GOP as now constituted is bad for business because it is destabilizing. That hurts confidence. Which curtails spending and investing. What good is it to business to have less regulation and low taxes under the GOP if the economy slows and slows? Where does American business turn to make money?  Overseas markets are just as fragile as the USA, perhaps more so. And what good is wealth if the stock market falls dramatically and wipes out half its value? And US Treasuries tumble? As for gold, it's a sucker's game. You can't eat gold, or wear it. or burn it for heat. Gold is only good as a trade for a currency that is stable and thus usable. There MUST be stability. Without stability, you get the Third Reich! That's not just history. That's reality. Frightened or hungry people go to extremes.

People are scared now. Not at the level of Germans in the 1930s. But if the T-P-GOP keeps up its brinkmanship and intransigence, fear will worsen. Fear brings on economic chaos. FDR pegged it: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

And the T-P controlled GOP.

All we have to do is win 24 House seats from the GOP in 2012, hold on to the Senate, and keep smart Obama as president. Just 24 seats going to the Democrats will deliver the GOP from the Tea Party or at least give the more moderate GOP a chance to re-emerge. Then we can get done what needs to be done for the economy! And fight global warming too!

Just 24 seats! Yes, we can! Yes, we MUST! And it all depends on YOU! China may be coming to the rescue, but God helps those who help themselves. Let's pitch in big-time next year and reclaim our country from insanity. Just 24 seats! This is your chance to be the Really Great Generation. This is your "rendezvous with destiny."


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Scary Rick Perry, the GOP's Crouching Tiger

Rick Perry is one scary dude! What he says is bad enough. How he says it is even worse. He has all the body language and facial expressions and intonations of an angry, explosive man. Except for Southern Bible-Belters raised on this style of speaker, most Americans don't like angry "hot" candidates.

But Perry is a fantastic fit for folk accustomed to the hellfire preacher style. In Ames, Iowa, he did a move which was right out of the preacher hellfire playbook that goes back to an evangelical named Billy Sunday. A pioneer of the newly created mass media of radio and newsreel, Sunday packed the huge revival tents of the 1920s and '30s and even filled the LA Coliseum. That's 100,000 people! He was the forerunner of all the money-making "preachers" on today's so-called Christian radio and TV.

So, what is the move Billy and the hellfire Bible-thumpers make? It's a crouching tiger! Just as Perry did on the platform in Ames, the speaker crouches about halfway down with knees bent and then springs up forcefully with a roar: "I may be late getting into this race. But when I get in (crouch), I get ALL the way in!" The spring upward came on the roaring "ALL" It was classic! It was  -  dare I say it?  -  exciting.

Crowds like excitement, but voters don't like excitement expressed by angry men. Angry men are scary. A tremendous Southern crowd-pleaser was angry-hellfire ol' Huey Long. He scared pretty near everybody outside of Louisiana where he was governor. He even scared FDR, who was struggling to keep a lid on Depression era fear, panic and mob-mentality. FDR also saw Long as a potential competitor  -  and a tough one  -  for the presidency.

But someone shot Huey Long dead. And someone shot George Wallace, that 1968 angry racist and crowd-panderer. He who rides a tiger can get eaten.

If the GOP nominates Perry, thoughtful voters will, of course, flee him. Even some of those who like his slogans may have trouble when they think about an angry man answering that 3 a.m. phone call in the White House. An angry man with his hand on the nuclear trigger?

But even if they don't think about these nightmare things, they may be viscerally repulsed by the cocka-doodle-doo-doo of the Old West macho cowboy who flings open the saloon door and swaggers in with his hand hovering above his holster. The image works great in the old movies, but not with political TV.

TV is a "cool" medium. It's kind to the forcefully cool (JFK punching a finger for emphasis), but it's hell on menacing blowhards.

So that leaves the GOP with a blowhard Perry and a blow-dried Romney. Meanwhile, the Democrats have the ultimate Mr. Cool himself in Barack Obama.  And Obama can stare down any tiger. After all, he's the guy who  -   quietly  -  potted Bin Laden!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Obama, Big Job Proposals, and The Two-Legged Stool

Why is Obama not proposing great big jobs programs like the commentators and economists are demanding? They keep pointing out that he should at least propose such programs even if they won't pass the GOP House. In fact, anxious Democrats are wild with frustration that he hasn't done an FDR and proposed creating things like the old CCC or the WPA.

Maybe his caution is understandable if we consider that we are now sitting on a two-legged stool. The missing third leg is the one Standard & Poors yanked away. Moody's and Fitch, the two other rating agencies, each have a hand on the remaining legs. They have cautioned that they are considering pulling those legs off, i.e. lowering our credit rating as S&P did.

If Obama proposes increasing our deficit and debt by launching new big, big job programs, won't that tempt Moody's &/or Fitch to pull off the other legs? Can the U.S. risk more credit-risk downgrading?

Sometimes presidents have to be very careful what they say and do because of the potential impact on the economic health of the country. This doesn't mean that a Democratic president has morphed into being a sellout to the corporations. Responsible, smart Democratic leaders realize  -  especially in times of financial instability  -  they should avoid the words or deeds that can be tipping points into economic catastrophe and hardship for the people.

An example. During the terrible Nixon recession of the early 1970s, Nixon staged the first of his infamous dirty tricks while campaigning in San Jose, CA for the re-election of a GOP senator, the movie actor & tap dancer George Murphy. Two of us Democratic campaign people found solid police evidence that the Nixon White House had directed the staging of the phony "riot" at the San Jose event. This was four days before election day, and we desperately needed a high-profile Democrat to present our evidence to the press before voters went to the polls. The logical one was Democratic Congressman Don Edwards of San Jose, whose right-hand man was a longtime friend of mine. The "riot" had occurred on Thursday night. I had the police evidence by Friday morning. So I called Edward's aide.

"Can't do it," he said. "We are going crazy over here trying to prevent the collapse on Monday of _______ (one of America's biggest stock brokerage firms). We can't deal with this Nixon thing right now."

This was the priority coming from one of the greatest liberals who have ever sat in the House. Edwards was one of the very first Congressmen to oppose the Vietnam War. He was also the Congressman who virtually single-handedly destroyed the infamous and power-mad House UnAmerican Activities Committee, thus helping end the McCarthy era. He also fought the reactionaries who wanted to criminalizing flag-burning and other free speech and assembly rights. The things Edwards did took guts!

Yet he put saving a brokerage house ahead of stymying a vicious Nixon dirty trick in a key election. If that brokerage house had gone down, it could have been the equivalent, for then, of the Lehman Bros. collapse in 2008.

Edwards, like Obama, was an extremely smart man who knew history. He knew that the greatest danger to our rights is economic instability. Witness today how the Tea Party feeds off economic fears and simultaneously rants about ant-Americanism. Recall how the facists arose from the European economic chaos of the Great Depression. Could it happen here if the economy plunged off that cliff we teetered on in 2008?

Let's not experiment with that one, shall we? After all, there were food riots in this country during the Depression. Americans are a patient people, but let's not push it.

However, if you want to risk it, how about buying stock in companies that make jack boots or brown shirts?

So a good Democratic leader can and should walk carefully when economic tipping points are lurking. If Obama is cautious now because Moody's and Fitch have their hands on the stool legs, it's more than understandable. It's being a responsible leader. Which is something his Democratic critics have no experience with whatsoever!

The real issue now isn't Obama's caution. It's how the hell these damn rating agencies have started running U.S. politics! But that's a whole other subject for another day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Democrats' Amazing Wisconsin Wins

Miracles mean something! And Wisconsin now produces miracles as well as cheese.

The Wisconsin recall elections results are truly amazing! The good Dems and labor folks of Wisconsin not only won two of the three State Senate seats needed to reclaim the State Senate majority, but they did so against all odds. In fact, the outcome defies all the rules of traditional election politics. The win is even more stunning than the recent Dem capture of the GOP House seat in upstate New York.

The Wisconsin results smashed through at least FOUR  -  yeah, count 'em!  -  FOUR big barriers that faced the Dems.

First, unseating any incumbent is TOUGH. Incumbents typically have a 95%+  rate of re-election. The Dems ousted TWO INCUMBENTS!

Second, Republicans never lose districts where they have a registration edge. These two districts were reportedly solidly GOP.

Third, Democrats typically lose even those races where the registration is Dem but is below 55% to 60%. This is because Dems are usually flat tires regarding turning out to vote, while GOP voters drag themselves to the polls even with two broken legs. How astonishing, then, that the Dem get-out-the vote effort worked so supremely well in Wisconsin!

Fourth, although this has been changing of late, Dems typically lose special elections because the Dems,who are slow to vote even on regular election days, turn into slugs in a special election.

What does this Wisconsin miracle mean? It means "Yes, We Can" win the 24 House seats we Democrats need to gain in 2012 to get back the majority. (How YOU can make that happen will be the topic of future posts.)

Once we get back the House majority, the "No You Can't" Tea Party House members become irrelevant. No more of their forcing artificial crises on the USA as they did with the debt ceiling, turning a routine matter into a debacle that cost us our triple AAA rating. No more blocking all attempts at job programs coupled with rational debt reduction.

The Tea Party idiot Congress-people who ranted that it was okay for the U.S to default on its debt had an audience. Standard and Poor's was listening! What sort of lunatics brag about possibly defaulting on their debt?! The Tea Party stupidity is part of what has cost the global stock markets trillions of dollars in lost valuation. Was some of that lost money yours?

Like Bobby Kennedy used to say:  "Don't get mad. Get even."

Not just for yourself but for all the unemployed and those who have lost their homes, who are being screwed by the Tea Party's preventing the House from acting to help the economy. George W's horrible economics knocked these folks down, and now the Tea Party in Congress is stomping on their faces. Once we get back control of the House the Tea Party members are toast! Their day is done!

Like the good Democrats of Wisconsin, let's not settle for making cheese. Let's get those 24 House seats, resume the majority, and  get this country moving again. Let's make more miracles!

Yes, We Can! Yes,We WILL!