Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Supremes' Decision? Love Wins and Hate Loses

At this very moment the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the first of two cases this week on same-sex marriage.  But no matter how the Court rules, the question of same-sex marriage has been settled.  A solid majority of Americans now say they are just fine with it, and that is the decision which will rule the future of the issue.

This is an amazing turn-around in just a couple of years.  As recently as 2004, George W supposedly won Ohio, and thus the presidency, because an anti-same-sex marriage measure was on the ballot.  (There's a question, of course, as to whether Bush actually won Ohio or stole it in 2004.)  After 2004, people across America continued until almost now to tell pollsters they disapproved of same-sex marriage by about 2-to-1.  Now that number has flipped.  Almost overnight Americans have changed their minds and now accept same-sex marriage overwhelmingly.  Even a majority of younger Republicans have changed their minds.

What happened?

Americans saw that the issue wasn't really about sex and Old Testament proscriptions but about love.  They saw couples in San Francisco joyously marrying in the mayor's office in the brief opportunity before Prop 8 fell like an axe.  They saw brides clutching flowers and beaming.  Who could resist those beaming smiles?  They saw old couples who had been together for a lifetime, clutching each other and weeping for a joy long deferred.  They saw families gathered around the wedding couples, grateful that there was now someone committed to taking care of their brother or sister or child for all the years ahead, that one of their own beloved had found someone to love and cherish.

Love is powerful.  It lasts beyond death.  It can summon any sacrifice.  It can endow strength.  My mother once lifted an automobile because it had fallen on my father.  My daughter once tutored a Vietnamese girl in college who had, at the age of eight, gotten her six-year-old sister all across war-torn Vietnam and onto a little open boat and then a big boat headed for America.  She had gotten no help.  She had to fight her way.  But she could because she had her sister to care for, because of love.

Love is the burden that makes us free.  When we love our family member or friend or community, it sets us free.  We are empowered to let go of anger, hurt feelings, disappointment, even fear.  Love doesn't blind us; it let's us see very clearly the worth and wonder of other people.

So strong and shining are the tv images of same-sex couples getting married that some of that love has just jumped off the screens and into the hearts of the American people.  Hey, we love too!  And we think we love you, you happy folks there getting married.  You're not different.  You're the same.  Because love is the same.  It's uncontrollably contagious, like suppressed laughter at a funeral.  And those joyful smiles at all those same-sex weddings now light the hearts of most of us.  As the song says, "I've had a love of my own..."

So it's settled now, no matter what the Supreme Court does.  The GOP, the right wing, and the evangelicals will all battle on a bit more, but it's over.  Already the GOP is backing off, while Ralph Reed and Gary Bauer, barnacles on the back of the evangelical movement, are screaming that the polls are not reliable (remind you of Karl Rove during the election?).  Maybe the evangelicals will be discouraged enough that they will go back to their traditional pre-1980 role of staying out of politics, but that may be too much to hope for.

So hate may hang on for a while.  North Carolina's Rep. Virginia Foxx (R) will continue to say that Matthew Shepard wasn't a victim of a hate crime as a homosexual but was killed in the course of a robbery.  Somehow this makes ultra-conservatives feel better and gives them grounds to fight legislation that would protect against sex-based hate crimes.  What kind of people get their highs out of hatred and fear?  Little people.  Frightened people.

This week commemorates important events in two major religions.  Both events are about  freedom and change.  I speak of Passover and Easter.  In one, the people flee slavery across forty years; in the other the teacher shows the way to freedom within through love.  For thousands of years humans have resisted  -  even tried to destroy  -  these beneficent forces.  But the Jews are still here, while Jesus who hung from a cross still inspires.  And the image of Matthew Shepard, arms outstretched along a barbed wire fence, yet haunts us.  His death too marked a change, an awakening.  

Change is frightening but come it will.  Those most frightened, the old white folks, will keep dying off.  Since I'm 77 I'm taking lots of them with me to the grave!  And thus I shall die smiling!

A final word about love, if I may: Hugh Grant's voice-over in the film "Love, Actually" says something rather important.  It says that if you listen to the voices from the Twin Towers and the hijacked planes on 9/11, no one is leaving messages of anger or hate.  They are all of them conveying messages of love.

Love is indeed powerful.  May you too walk in its shining path.  And invite some folks to join you.

It's a very wide path.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

GOP "Outhouse" Theory of Governing as Crazy as a Foxx

Virginia Foxx is a Republican member of the House from North Carolina, apparently obsessed with outhouses.  As we shall see, she seemingly gets her main theory of governance from the outhouse of her youth.  I can't make this stuff up, people.  This woman literally learned her governmental economics inside the little "necessary" in the backyard!

But let's be fair for a moment.  She's not a mouth-breathing crazy like Rep. Michele Bachman.  Bachman will believe, and thus repeat, anything that blows across her path.  She'd read a matchbook cover into the Congressional Record if it caught her fancy.  For example,  how idiotic is her completely untrue claim the other day that Obama has five chefs aboard the presidential plane.  Yeah, Michele, and he has five tailors riding with him in the presidential limousine!

No, Virginia Foxx is no Michele Bachman but a far more serious threat to our sanity than Bachman.  Sane people can spot the nonsense of Michele in a flash;  Virginia Foxx isn't so dramatically nutso.   She doesn't make up wild stories, as does Bachman, but instead spouts fallacious GOP  theories, i.e. the lies that the GOP now lives by.

And some of these sound plausible until dragged into the sunlight of truth and out of the outhouse from which, in Mrs. Foxx's case, the theories derive.  So let's open the door with the half-moon in it and look at the main economic theory the dim Mrs. Foxx embraces, as does the entire GOP, principally that the federal government should be like a "good household" and stay out of debt by "living within its balanced budget".

And what households actually do this?  What households never have a mortgage or buy on credit?  I'll tell you:  until she was fourteen years old, Virginia Foxx lived in a household so poor that it had neither running water nor electricity.  Nor a mortgage.  Nor any buying on credit.  (And remember that this was a white family.  For African-Americans in the South then, there were few such options as credit and mortgages.)

I was around in those years and was older than Mrs. Foxx.  Let me tell you that still being without running water in 1957 like Mrs. Foxx  -  that's  twenty years AFTER the Depression began to lift and the New Deal came to rural areas  -   was way, way, way behind the mark.  Mrs. Foxx's family had to really work at being poor and deprived enough to still have an outhouse and kerosene lamps in the super-prosperous postwar years of the 1950s.

But they managed this remarkable achievement by following Mrs. Foxx's still persistent rule of outhouse economics:  to stay poor and deprived, NEVER borrow money.  Don't borrow to get decent housing.  Don't borrow to get a reliable car so you can reach a decent job.  Don't borrow to get an education so you can make a decent wage.  Don't borrow to build a business and create employment for yourself and others.  As a government, don't borrow to build the roads and schools your citizens need for their better now and their better future.

Instead, thriftily settle for less.  Put off the better tomorrow until it's too late to do you any good.  Save for fifteen years for a decent house "someday"for your children instead of buying one now with a thirty-year mortgage.  Save for it while living without electricity and running water.  So what if the septic from the outhouse may contaminate your well and your children's drinking water.  So what if the kerosene lamp may tip over and engulf the house in flames.  So what if you keep your kids in too-tight shoes and ruin their feet rather than buy proper shoes on a charge account.  You're being "thrifty" and somehow morally superior.  You can hold your head as high as do all the others who cling to their outhouse way of life and economics.  This economic "theory" is old-timey American rural nonsense, as outdated and groundless as the GOP anti-scientific theories and its social prejudices.  And it's certainly no way to run a government.

In reality, businesses, households, and governments all run on credit. Money is like oil, lubricating the engine of exchange of goods and services.  If it stops flowing, everything freezes up and we have a Great Depression.  People starve.  The faster and easier credit can move, the better.  We are all pals with PayPal!  This is how capitalism works!  How can the GOP claim to be capitalistic and not grasp this basic stuff?  In a tight time like now, the government should be pumping more oil into the engine, not less.

I don't want to run with the Foxxes.  I don't want a government that embraces "outhouse" economics.  I remember all that from my own young years after Hoover, and then even FDR, thought balancing the federal budget was a cool move in a bad time.  They were wrong, and the Depression dragged on and on.  Obama did some pump priming, and Bush's Great Recession is lifting.

So I'm staying snug indoors with my plumbing and electricity.  Let Mrs. Foxx and her friends tramp through the dark and snow to the outhouse for the rest of their lives for all I care.

Just get them and their stupid outhouse economics out of the House of Representatives!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Five More Dumb GOP "Reforms" of Their Party

In my last posting I went over the first five of the ten ideas the GOP has come up with to reform their party.  Confronted with polling that shows a majority of people view the GOP as "stuffy old white men", the GOP included this finding in their report Monday, having appointed a group of stuffy old white Republican men to analyze what's wrong with the party, write the report, and suggest reforms.

Pretty sad, right?

The first five suggestions from the stuffy old white men were mostly silly and rather desperate.  And from there on up, it was downhill all the way.  Here are the second five:

GOP POINT SIX:  Release voter data.

The GOP boasts it has "billions" of pieces of voter data they now plan to release to "friendly vendors and campaigns".  There is so much that is basically stupid about that statement that I can't remark on it beyond saying that the GOP would be a whole lot wiser  to RELEASE THE VOTERS instead of the data.  Yes!  Release the voters from the unconstitutional, vote-suppressing laws that have been enacted by state legislatures all over this country.  This would be a meaningful outreach to the voters, including the "minorities" the GOP now covets in the wake of its 2012 loss.  It would also be a reassurance to some middle-of-the-road independent voters that maybe the GOP has not become unAmerican just to grab power.  Okay, okay, I'll say one more little thing about The GOP Point Six:  What's this "friendly vendor"stuff?  Is that the Good Humor Man?  Or are they all gone?

GOP POINT SEVEN:  Shrink the primary season.

Oh, no!  It was the best fun since Abbott and Costello did "Who's On First " or Andy Griffith did "What It Wuz Wuz  Football."  Or Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks did "The 2000-Year-Old Man".

Yeah, that's reaching way back, but the GOP primary season was monumentally funny and one has to go back to the giants of comedy to match it.  Herman Cain's lecherous smile and his creepy campaign manager doing the ad that ends with slurping the cigarette.  Rick Perry forgetting which departments he was going to kill and all the others jumping in to help him remember.  Romney at the Iowa Fair hammering the first nail in his coffin by lecturing the crowd that "corporations are people, my friend."  (Whenever any Republican calls you "my friend", duck and cover)  Ol' Newty Fruitcake Gingrich promising a colony on Mars.  All and sundry primary candidates, preposterous in their ignorance and bigotry, frothing at the mouth to deport "illegal aliens" as if we had a bunch of criminally-inclined ETs on the loose.

It was grand. And I haven't even begun to include all the memorable moments.  They roundly insulted everybody who is not exactly like them.  IT'S A NEW RECORD!

GOP POINT EIGHT:  Fewer primary debates. (Same comments as on Point Six.)

GOP POINT NINE:   Have an earlier convention.

I guess Clint Eastwood may not last until a later one.

GOP POINT TEN:  Change the tone but not the message.

They're kidding.  Exactly how do you change the tone of destroying Medicare while giving the rich further tax breaks?  How exactly do you do that?  I admire the GOP word skills of yesteryear in changing "estate tax" to "death tax", so I really want to see how they can rephrase their plan to push granny off the cliff while stuffing more money in their rich friends' pockets.

Anyone want to offer suggestions on how to word this message so it's more appealing to the general public?

Anyone want to offer the GOP other ideas on how they can improve their party?  Their committee of stuffy old white men has sort of bombed out, wouldn't you say?  



Monday, March 18, 2013

GOP: "Who's Afraid of Jon Stewart?"

At last, dear reader!  You've been breathlessly awaiting it!  And now it's been issued!

It's the special report from the GOP on how it's going to remake itself, called "Growth and Opportunity".

It should be called "How to Keep Shrinking and Going Backward with Ten Really Stupid Ideas."  This report is so bad that even I am shocked.  I keep thinking that the GOP is powerful and shrewd.   But this report seems to point out yet again how dumb and desperate they are.  And self-deluded.

GOP POINT ONE:  "Sustain" the outreach to minorities.

What outreach?  There actually isn't any GOP minority outreach to sustain so, without admitting this non-existence, the report suggests there should be one "connecting people to our policies."  Hey, GOP, that's not how you connect with a community!  You don't hitch them to YOUR wagon.  You find out where they want to go!  You RESPECT the people.  You listen!

GOP POINT TWO:  Recruit more minority candidates.

Yeah, like Herman Cain? He was loads of fun.  Or Marco Rubio, with whom Hispanics DO NOT identify  (see my prior posts).  Or Canadian-born Sen. Ted Cruz, who knows he can never be president so opts for being obnoxious instead.

GOP POINT THREE:  Have GOP candidates go on the Daily Show and other "youth demographics" media.

Oh, PLEASE, do just that very thing.   And always do it before Thanksgiving so there's plenty of resulting mincemeat.  (Note: again there's this GOP idea that you get a group by an empty gesture. This shows how disrespectful the GOP is of anyone who doesn't loll around country clubs and smoke $50 cigars.)

GOP POINT FOUR:  Attack the Democratic candidates early and really hit them hard.

They weren't already doing this?  What was all the "Muslim" stuff throughout 2008 and the birther stuff in 2009 and ever after?  And what about Mitch McConnell pledging Obama would be a one-term president and making the pledge within moments of the 2008 election? Come on!  You GOP are being so unfair to yourself.  Take credit where credit is due.  You are already doing a great job of mud-slinging!

GOP POINT FIVE:  Create a new mobile voter registration project that makes it easier for people to register on-line.

WHAT!  So you can deny them the vote when they try to exercise it!  Oh, give us all a break!  Before you GOP have any credibility on increasing voter participation you are going to have to repeal all those voter suppression laws you enacted.


That's all I can stand to go over in one sitting.  The other five points are for next time.  Believe me, they are worth waiting for.  In fact, they definitely veer way into the pathetic.

At this rate the Whig party is definitely coming back.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Two Unsung Heroes of 2012 and One Sung One

Individuals matter!  Oh boy, do they!  And so does a crowd acting in unity.

In the 2012 campaign, the video of Romney attacking "the 47%" in a speech at a Florida fundraiser certainly helped solidify his image as the man who couldn't care less about people with problems.  Or the old.  Or the sick.  The ones he and Paul Ryan call "the takers".

But who took the footage of Romney destroying himself?  I have hoped it was one of the workers at the posh fundraiser.  That would be quite cool.

And it was!

The bartender did it!  (A nice variant on "the butler did it"?)  You can meet this hero tonight on MSNBC's The Ed Show.

Let's drink a toast to the bartender!  The drinks are on me!

The other unsung hero of the 2012 campaign is actually rooted in 2011.  I mean the almost-forgotten Occupy Wall Street.  Yes, there was more than one person in OWS  -  a horde, in fact  -  but in their emphasis they moved as one force and made a major contribution.  They focused the election on its real issue:  the economic plight of the vast majority of Americans. Their articulation of the 1% v. the 99% gave the whole campaign its emotional ground.  When people kept insisting to pollsters that Obama and not Romney most identified with their concerns they did so in large part because Occupy Wall Street had made clear what those concerns were.  Until OWS the problems of a shrinking middle class and the greed of the "haves" were just dry numbers for statisticians, ignored by the media.  OWS made it all very real and exposed the pain in a way the media could not ignore.  Americans are very patient and quietly brave people.  Often they don't know they have a legitimate complaint until they find out others are suffering too.  OWS told us what was wrong.

And  -  much to his credit  -  Obama picked up on what OWS had been saying and doing.  In the fall of 2011 he gave a populist speech in the Midwest that set the tone for all of 2012.  He boldly became what he had quietly been all along  -   a community organizer, a man of the people.  Only now people could see it and hear it.  Until then,  Democrats in general had been shy of their old image as fighters for the folks.  But hard times are back for the folks, and if the Democrats don't fight for them, who will?

OWS and the Florida bartender are the bookends of the campaign, the alpha and the omega.  But in the middle is the third hero, the man who had the good sense to recognize what was going on and the courage to do what had to be done.  That hero is Obama himself.  It took guts to openly espouse the cause of the many versus the few.

You don't believe it took guts?  Remember the scolding he got at the time from the Democratic party's buddies of the fat cats?  Among those scolding Obama were Cory Booker, Harold Ford, Jr.,  and other East Coast Democratic pals of Wall Street contributors.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that behind the scenes other pals of the rich Wall Street donors were similarly furious with Obama, among them Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein.  And probably most furious of all were Bill and Hilary Clinton and their whole coterie.  The Clintons never met a big fat cat they didn't love and a business-favorable break they couldn't espouse.  (Who do you think gave you a lot of deregulation?)  And these are just some of the powerful Democrats who have for decades protected the 15% income tax rate for hedge fund managers and other fat cats.  In terms of policy these Democratic leaders have been taxpayer Mitt Romney's best friends!

Obama just ignored the party's power brokers.  He did what he had to do  -   the right thing  -   and stayed with his populist message.  And he won. We all won.  Now what, you ask.  Will the fat-cat-favoring Democrats ever allow him or other true Democrats to change things like the 15% tax rule for the fat cats?  Probably not.  Perhaps that can become a key issue in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, but that's another topic for another time.

So, for now, let's lift a glass to President Obama, the wise man who made the right move.  And let's lift a glass to the OWS because we haven't already done so.  And then maybe another toast to The Bartender Who Beat the Bully?  And then..... we'll all be in a fine mood to sing the unsung!

And the drinks  -  all of them!  -  are on me.        




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lies That Republicans Believe

Well, they say they believe these things.  Maybe they just want the rest of Americans to believe this nonsense.

Nope.  It's shrinking.  It's not near as big now as under GW Bush.  And it will continue to go down as we pull out of Afghanistan and as employment continues to increase.

Nope.  It's getting smaller because Obama has cut over a trillion smackeroos already, plus another 3/4 billion from Medicare furbelows.  But even if the debt weren't going down, it's not a killer issue because it's still an okay amount vis-a-vis GDP.  Yes, a time will come when Medicare could be way too much because of so many boomers aging and medical costs increasing, but that time is not here yet.  We have time to tinker around and avoid a future crisis without cutting benefits now or increasing the age to qualify.  We should also get medical costs under control now because we spend twice as much as any other country and have a less good outcome.  The burden of medical costs, not just for Medicare, but for everyone (including business) is too heavy.

We've been hearing that since Simpson-Bowles, but it's just not true though salty Senator Simpson keeps saying so.  In fact interest rates for housing are the lowest in my 77-year lifetime, and interest on federal borrowing is almost invisible.  Former-Senator Simpson of Wyoming is a crackerjack, full-of-himself funny man to be sure.  But he's dead wrong about inflation.  There isn't any.

Baloney!  The money's been paid back with interest.  YOU GET THAT, FOLKS?  The taxpayers MADE MONEY on the deal!

Really?  Do you know how much the UAW had to give up to make the deal go?  Plenty, pardner!  And what a great deal it was for America, for the one million non-union workers who didn't lose their jobs, for the hundreds of communities that didn't die.  Hats off to the UAW, one smart and patriotic bunch of people!  And hats off to the federal managers who put the auto industry on the firmest footing it's had for decades.  Was this the "socialism" the GOP was screaming about?

Five big fat lies is enough for one session.  We'll puncture some more another time.  And don't worry.  We won't run out. The GOP seems really good at creating plenty to go around!    


Friday, March 8, 2013

What We've Learned

Lots of TV talk is starting  -  already! -  about the 2016 field of presidential contenders.  Phooey!  It's too soon for all except the lazy talking heads who do speculation and not analysis.

Let's not be too quick to let go of 2012.  There's some important lessons last year and some clear indication as to which old political maxims are and are not valid.  And we won!  After years of hard work, can't we savor for a few months?  Plus, what we learn may be of far more value in 2016 than airy-fairy speculation on Hilary v. Biden  or Jeb Bush v. Mario Rubio, both being rather preposterous nomination match-ups.

1. Let's look first at the conventional wisdom that a president can't win re-election with a bad economy. All the pundits held fast to that one almost to the end.  I didn't believe it, and said so in this blog,  chiefly because Obama's likeability was so high in the polls.  My guess was that people liked and trusted him enough to give him another shot.  Also 7.8% unemployment in mid-fall 2012 looked so much less than the 8% of late summer 2012 or the  10+% of 2009.

2.  Another Pundit's Rule to bite the dust:  Contrary to the pundits' expectations, the public continued to blame Bush for the recession.  And if Bush were to blame, didn't the skinny kid with the greying hair deserve more time to fix the mess?  The pundits, however, declared that the public would perceive it was "Obama's recession" after the first year of his first term and blame him for not having fixed it soon thereafter.  Thus the voters would toss him out.  But that didn't happen. The American people (except for the nut jobs on the right and the talking heads) are more fair than that.

3.  In the grand scheme of things political, this next is not a big deal, but it is to me personally. Bob Woodward is not an objective journalist.  He's a Republican and says so.  But now it's a problem because it has been coloring his reporting ever since Obama got into the White House.  Most recently he's claimed the White House created the sequestering.  (Who cares?  It's what comes next that matters, not what started it.  Besides the sequester was a bipartisan response to the GOP threat to refuse to lift the debt ceiling in 2011 and thereby cause the USA to default.)  It's sad when you see one of your heroes get old and crotchety and partisan when he's not supposed to.  Now he's accusing the White House of "threatening" him.  How dumb can he be to think the White House is that dumb!  I watched him throughout 2012 on the talk shows and was startled and saddened to see him become so forthrightly partisan.  And so wrong.  The awful thought occurs:  Can we still trust the reporting he did in "All the President's Men", "Final Days", and in the Washington Post during Watergate?  Or did he cover for Nixon about something worse?  The books say there was something worse, for which "Bay of Pigs" was borrowed by Nixon's team as a cover name.  We could hope that Carl Bernstein kept Woodward in line while they worked together, but I got the impression at the time and from their Watergate books that Woodward was the dominant personality.  And what could have been worse than Watergate?  What was "Bay of Pigs" a cover name for?  The assassination of JFK?

4.  Money can't buy you love.  (This one's my favorite.)  It took Karl Rove $312 MILLION to demonstrate in 2012 that you can't buy elections.  He had a virtual zero return on all that money he spent on GOP candidates and attacks on Obama .  Yes, you have to have enough money to get a candidate known, though getting free press with news stories is lots more effective.  And yes, you have to have enough to keep a volunteer organization going (though this can be done pretty cheaply).  But when push comes to shove, money and TV ads are not determinative.  But you knew that because I said it over and over again all year.  Write this in stone:  The volunteer at the door wins the election!  That's the real and enduring rule in elective politics.   And only love can get you volunteers.

5. Business men and women who become candidates aren't as smart as they say they are.  Or maybe I expect them to be really smart.  Carly Fiorino and Meg Whitman ran terrible campaigns for senate and governor in California in 2010, except that I did love Fiorino's red-eyed sheep because it was so sleazy!  But the all-time dumb business person candidate was Mitt Romney in 2012.  If there was a mistake to make, ol' Mitt found it and embraced it.  And I'm not just talking political mistake or foot-in-mouth mistakes.  I'm talking money and business mistakes.  Tell me how a man whose main qualification is supposedly his business acumen can choose to pay FIVE times as much for the SAME TV advertising as his opponent Obama.  And can severely understaff his national advertising staff.  And fail to have an up-to-date computer analysis of the voters.  You would think these would be his strongest points.  But no.  A skinny community organizer from the South Side of Chicago beat him on the business aspects of campaigning.  What a world!  You gotta love it!

6.  The BEST POLL?  It's not a polling outfit.  It's a polling QUESTION!  And the question is:  "Who do you think will win the presidential election?"  This question has, over many elections, provided the most reliable forecast as  to who will actually win.  Through the years, it has been correct over 80% of the time as compared with the question "Who are you going to vote for?"  The latter question has produced a correct indication of election results only 69% of the time.  This is wildly and wonderfully weird!  Why or how do people have a knowledge of what others will do that exceeds the import of what they themselves will be doing?  And what happened to their actual votes?  Did over 10% of them change their minds election year after election year between being polled and voting?  Is there a hidden bandwagon effect here which pulls people from their preference to that which they perceive in the crowd. Or is the question "Who are you voting for?" simply a bad question?   It's 6 a.m. as I write this, and  - quite frankly, folks  -  I ain't up to cracking THAT nut.  Your insights are welcome.

7.  The BEST POLL ANALYST?  Far and away it's Nate Silver.  In fact, he's the only one who does real analysis of polls.  Some sites claim to be analyzing but they mostly just do an averaging of any polls that come floating by.  Nate has worked out some pretty good formula for weighting the polls, having cut his teeth on baseball.

How do we know he's far and away the best forecaster?   Because he's been right in the past three federal elections and not just as to the winner but as to the MARGIN of the win.   The only forecaster who came close to him was the VOTING PUBLIC, which told both Gallup and Ipsos/Reuters the same thing as Nate predicted :  that Obama would get 53% of the vote.  In spite of this history-has-proven-reliable information from the voters themselves, both Gallup and Ipsos/Reuters were way off all along and at the very end showed a much tighter race.   In fact,  Gallup, the "grandaddy" of pollsters, consistently underestimated Obama's support even after belatedly adjusting its polling to allow greater representation from cell phone users.

8.  Let's toss Gallup forever.  It's just not living in today's America.  As late as October 19, I was writing, "Forget Gallup and its daily tracking poll that shows Obama trailing by 6%.  Nonsense!"  This Gallup idiocy all year kept pulling the entire media establishment off track.  The only good it did was reinforce the GOP and Karl Rove mistaken belief all along that they had 2012 in the bag.  Hey, Karl, you wanna  challenge the Fox election night numbers guys  again!

There's more about 2012 that is great, sad, bad, or beautiful.  Let's come back to it again sometime soon.  

After all it's still a long time to 2016!

And  -  oh, yeah!  -  we've got 2014 coming!



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ann Romney's Mustache; Wayne LaPierre's Frothing

Please, fellow feminists, don't snarl just because I am going to talk about Ann Romney's mustache.  And the rest of you stop giggling. This is a serious matter, and we can't be knee-jerk about it and sweep it under the rug in the name of p.c.  (Sweeping a mustache under a rug is as disconcerting an image as Ann's mustache itself.)

There she was on Fox News this past Sunday talking about how everybody except Mitt and she and the GOP was responsible for Mitt's losing the presidential election.  And she had a mustache.  Many women do but keep it plucked or waxed.  Ain't no big thing to deal with.  And some women just let it be because they don't want to "live their lives to please some man".  Or they're into "organic grooming" which means no leg shaving either.  Fine by me if any of these are their choices.  For me, women's lib means getting to do what you want to.

But what's with Ann?  She's certainly no women's libber!  Is she "letting herself go" because the American public rejected them?  Or does she feel so privileged that she believes "no hair would dare" grow upon her princess face?  Is she thus blind-siding herself?

Whatever her reason for sporting a mustache on TV, I wish she wouldn't.  No other women do.  A lot of them (and men) appear on TV with makeup that stops under their chins and leaves us with orange-faced people who have snow white necks.  This is weird enough.  I just can't accept, however, Ann and her mustache.  In fact, I can't stand the sight of Ann any more.  I never watch Fox but the segment was rebroadcast everywhere.  Maybe all the channels should issue "Ann Alerts" so we can tune out.  In fact, make that "Romney Alerts".   We don't want to look at Mitt or his wife or their progeny.  Ever.

Nor do we want to watch Wayne LaPierre frothing at the mouth. Literally.  The froth was there the second time he appeared on TV post-Newtown to announce that the NRA wants MORE GUNS!  The gob of drool was in the right corner of his mouth.  It suggested a mad dog, which is what he comes across as, even without the frothing.

They shoot mad dogs, don't they?  Wayne LaFroth had better be careful around his gun-happy crowd!  Some of them may be dumb enough to think they should shoot humans infected with rabies?

Why is no one else commenting on these weird aspects of Ann and Wayne's appearance?  I'm 77 years old.  I should be the last person able to see this stuff.  And I don't even have HD TV.

This media silence about the mustache and drool is clear proof that the media is in the tank for the far right.  We  knew it all along, and now it is as plain as the drool and mustache on you-know-who's  faces!

Get them forever off our screens!  And no more singing either, Mitt!

This is not a very kind blog, I know.  But it is a long way from the cruelty of Mitt Romney singing "America the Beautiful".  We don't have to suffer in silence and we don't have to suffer fools gladly!  Keep 'em off our TVs!      


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jeb and Romney Compete for "Most Pathetic" Prize

Well, the honeymoon is over.  Romney was back on TV the other day, being a jackass as usual and reminding us all why he didn't get elected.  He and Princess Ann blamed everybody else and everything else.  But his very presence on Fox TV showed why he lost.  BECAUSE HE IS A JERK!

He's also a cruel snob, still saying that Obama bought his votes by offering health insurance to the not-haves.  That's not buying votes, Mitt!  It's called supporting the party that does the right thing in your view.  Are the rich supposed to vote against the GOP because it gives them whopping tax breaks?  Romney is still stuck in his view of the "47%" as "takers".  Like I said, a real jerk.

The other reminder of Romney was on TCM the other night in a rerun of the original "The Producers" movie, which is one of the all-time best.  In the film Franz, the Nazi author of the musical "Springtime for Hitler",  makes an impassioned speech for what a good guy Hitler really was.  Then  - seized by fear he has been overheard  -  Franz begins to croon "America the Beautiful".   And back comes all the memories of Romney murdering that inoffensive song.  The man IS A JERK!

And then there's Jeb Bush.  He's supposed to be the smart one in the family and in the party.  And  a moderate.  And a potential candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2016.  And he's mainly supposed to be the one GOP member who can really bring the Latino vote to the Republicans because he has always strongly supported a path to citizenship for "the illegals".

So what does he do?  He's written a book saying "the illegals" here can get residency but never get citizenship.  What?!  He's now to the right of Rubio and several other GOP Senators.  And he's now a champion flip-flopper.

But that's not all, folks!  One day after announcing this switcheroo, he was on TV saying that he really didn't mean "never get citizenship".  What!?

So now "the grown-up", as he's been called, looks just like that other shape-shifter, the one in the 2012 GOP run, namely Mr. Romney.  Will say anything and do anything to be president.  Anything.

Plus. we have to face it, folks, even if Jeb won't.  He has another major handicap.  His last name is Bush.  His dad got the boot after one term as president, and his brother is universally regarded as the worst president in the entire history of the entire universe.  Even the GOP hates George W.  With Jeb's apparent desire to run in 2016, it's as if John Wilkes Booth's brother wanted to run for president after John assassinated Lincoln.  It just ain't gonna work.  George W killed over 4000 Americans in a hoked- up war, killed hundreds of thousand of Iraqis, spent us into a big hole, and then crashed the economy by failing to regulate Wall Street.

So give it some thought.  Where DOES the GOP get these people?


Monday, March 4, 2013

"It's despicable," Ms. Todman said. And the baby died.

Ms. Todman is the executive director of the District of Columbia Housing Authority.  She's talking in today's NY Times about the effect of the sequester on housing for the poor.  What is "despicable" is the huge and inhumane impact the sequester will have on the homeless.  Some now sheltered will be turned out; some who qualify for sheltering will be turned away.

Nationwide, about 40% of those affected by the sequester cuts in housing for the homeless will be elderly and children.  Another 25% will be the disabled.  Being "affected" is such a bleached media word.  It actually means being out on the street.  In the winter.  (Today it won't even get to 30 degrees here in Pennsylvania. It was in the teens overnight.)

As a nation, short of being Nazis, you can't be much more despicable than this  -  denying shelter to the most fragile and helpless of our people.  And who are the other 35% to be affected?  Many are veterans returning from war.  An estimated 175,000 veterans will be out on the streets.

And this is the nasty truth about the sequester cuts.  They are falling most heavily and cruelly on those least able to cope with them and least able to raise a voice of protest.

Where is Occupy Wall Street now that we need them?  Where is anybody?  The churches, the synagogues, the mosques, the service clubs?  The Democrats?  Organize for America?  You?

Are we going to have to have dead babies under bridges before something is done?

I'm looking back to the Reagan recession and his hard-hearted way with the poor.  That winter a couple drove through my county in California, and the husband stopped the car at the side of the road.  He took the suitcases out and set them down alongside the road.  Then he told his wife and little children to get out of the car.  Then he drove off, leaving them abandoned, his wife holding the baby.  He was weary and beaten by long unemployment and the search for a job that didn't exist.  A couple of nights later the baby died under a bridge.

The mother had found some cardboard for them to huddle under at night because there was no place to go.  When the baby got sick in the rain and the cold, the mother dared not seek medical help because she correctly believed that their homelessness  would be reported and the children taken away from her.

And so a baby died.  For no good reason.  A little, sweet, innocent baby died.  In the night, as we all slept unknowingly in our warm beds in our warm houses, that baby died.  It broke my heart when I found out.  And I have never gotten over it.

And now it's going to happen again.  Because the heartless Republicans are back in control even though we won the 2012 election.  They still control the House and thus the purse strings.  They will continue to protect obscene subsidies for profit-fat oil companies and similar outrageous tax provisions rather than reduce the deficit with some revenue increases instead of the sequester.

The blame for the suffering and dying that the Republicans are causing will surely fall on them on some sort of judgment day, but that isn't much consolation.  There is no consolation when a baby has died needlessly.

We have got to change the House.  Somehow we have to get those 17 seats in 2014.  Meantime, we have to find a way to shelter the homeless.  Why tell the beautiful story every Christmas of the shelter in a stable if we  -  the richest country in the world  -   can't even shelter our present day homeless families?

We have got to do better.  


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Obama Saves Us From Shutdown; Now You Save the Sequester Victims

In all the brouhaha about sequestration, something very important has been overlooked.  Yesterday Speaker of the House John Boehner quietly  -  ever so quietly  -   announced that the House would next week authorize the continuing budget resolution, i.e. NOT shut down the government as Newt Gingrich did back in the 1990s.

The government shutdown in late March had been trumpeted by the pundits as the next D.C. awfulness, the next GOP tantrum in the playpen.  It was supposed to be the GOP's top trump card in demanding more cuts in federal spending, especially cuts in Medicare.

So why did Boehner back off?  He likely recalled that Gingrich cut off his own nose by pulling this shutdown stunt in the '90s.  On the other hand, this isn't the '90s, and the GOP right wing lives in the fantasy that the American public cares more about deficit reduction than anything else.

I think Obama is the factor that deterred Boehner from threatening a shutdown.  Obama accomplished this by having simply refused to give in on the sequester, just as he had refused to give in on the fiscal cliff or the debt ceiling threat.  After three recent failures to extort action from Obama, Boehner now knows that threats aren't going to move the President to do what Obama thinks is harmful for the people.  If Boehner threatens a bad deed, he'd better be prepared to back off or deliver on it and take the rap for it.  Obama will not rescue him any more.

This is good.  Bullies and extortionists must not get their way.  But standing up to them can be painful because sometimes they follow through on their threats.  That's what the GOP is doing regarding the sequester.  So far the polls show the public is blaming them for the whole mess even before the worst of it arrives.  But that doesn't help the victims of the sequester  -  the folks who will lose their defense jobs, the kids who won't be able to get into Head Start, the elderly who will no longer get help with their food, and many others who will suffer.  Is there anything we can do to help them?  Yes, indeed!

We can do what we always do.  Be good neighbors to those who are going to suffer.  We may not be able to do much for the out-of-work defense worker besides helping out with sacks of groceries and other neighborly assistance.  But we can do plenty for those little kids who are going to be left without Head Start or child care.  We can take these kids under our wing.  We can read storybooks to them, give them coloring books and crayons and "art" paper, teach them songs and games, help them learn their letters.  We can be the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins they lack.  And we can get our churches to set up day care and pseudo-Head Start.  (If the church says the insurance doesn't cover this, take up a collection to extend the insurance!)

We can also help the elderly poor who won't be getting the food support they had before sequestration.  Can't you and your neighbors feed just one elderly person part of the time?  And how about the heating oil assistance that will be cut back next winter. You going to let your elderly neighbor freeze?

What about the poor souls stuck in the long lines at the airports because of the fed cutbacks in personnel?  Well, we can't fix that but we can certainly remind the public whose fault it is.  How about a coffee cart going up and down the lines with a free cup of coffee and a printed reminder that the GOP made this mess.

Because that's the problem.  People adapt and forget.  Especially if the shoe isn't pinching them.  We need to keep reminding the people about the dirty deal that sequester is.  Don't kid yourself; the environmentalists  -  God love them!  -  will be screeching about the cutbacks at the national parks and in fire-fighting.  But who will speak for the old, the little kids, the fragile?

WE MUST!  These folks are taking it on the chin for the rest of us.  They are going to be squeezed now so that our present and future Medicare and Social Security won't be reduced.  That's what the sequester is about and why Obama hung tough. WE OWE THEM!

And if you belong to Obama's new Organizing for America, which has replaced the campaign organization, let them know that it should do something to help the victims of the sequester.

And for heaven's sake, do all this with publicity!  This will spread the good example and also keep alive public awareness of what heartless wickedness the GOP has done.

Obama was a community organizer.  You be one too. Help those people who are taking it on the chin for the rest of us!      

And for this, as they sang on the Sabbath in "Fiddler on the Roof",  may the good Lord protect and defend you.  Not that you should need much defending from three-year-olds!

P.S.  If you don't know how to get publicity, just post a comment asking for help.  Publicity was my thing.  And if you do reach out to others harmed by the sequester, let us know.  We need your little candle in the dark world!  Or keep it to yourself in modest quiet.  But just DO IT!


Friday, March 1, 2013

The New Ides of March: Sequestration

Sequestration begins today.  Few will notice an immediate effect.  Perhaps more will notice a bad effect by the time the dreaded Ides of March arrive on March 15, the day Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by his buddies.  As the soothsayer in Shakespeare's play says to Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March."

John Boehner and the far right in the GOP House have decided to ignore Shakespeare and his soothsayer and embrace sequestration.  They invoke the attitude of that other Renaissance figure, Republican George W. "What Me Worry" Bush:  "Bring it on!"

This means two things.  The GOP far right in the House are traitorous, willing to risk the economic recovery of their country in order to avoid raising taxes on the wealthy, the least taxed wealthy in America's history of the income tax.

Second, it means the GOP has abandoned its traditional strong support for a strong military, willing to sacrifice the military for those same few wealthy.  If the defense budget wasn't so damn bloated,  one could call this GOP defection traitorous too.  At best it's a stupid way to do what perhaps needs doing, i.e. trimming defense spending.

But the cutting of any federal jobs is going to have a negative impact on the economy.  Ironically, today's New York Times reports that the Euro zone has hit an all-time high in unemployment, virtually 12%.  And isn't Europe where policy has been to cut, cut, cut government spending?  The model is right under our nose of what government cutbacks cost in a time of slow recovery from recession.  They cost JOBS!

But the GOP doesn't care about people and jobs.  They sort of look down on people who need jobs.  Why aren't these people smart enough to be among the idle rich?  What's wrong with them?  How come they aren't hedge fund managers paying less than 15% in income tax?

Let's see what happens, however, when some of the defense job cuts begin to fall on some of the GOP Congressional districts.  In another bit of irony  -  this one exceedingly bitter  -  the red states are predominantly the ones where federal spending exceeds fed taxes paid by the inhabitants.  This indicates that there are plenty of military bases and government military contractors in these red states.  And that means a big OUCH! for the residents of those red states when spending is cut at the military bases and defense contracts are cut back.

Maybe the small-government red states are about to learn a ferocious lesson.  The lesson is that practicing what you preach can be painful, particularly if you have been an ignorant hypocrite.

And let's see what their Tea Party GOP Congressmen have to say when their constituents begin to complain about the loss of their defense industry jobs.


On his way to the Forum that March 15,  Julius Caesar smugly boasted to the soothsayer who had previously warned him.  "The Ides of March have come", said Caesar.

The soothsayer replied," Aye, Caesar, but they have not yet left."

Caesar shrugged and proceeded to the Theater of Pompey and his death.

"Et tu, Boehner?"