Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Taxes For Ten Years?


Everyone who is blogging about this probably has the same thing to say, and I'm not going to throw fuel on the fire by simply saying my own version of "holy cow!"

This is an apocryphal story, and if it should prove to be true, it really does highlight the divide between rich and poor in this country. America is not a country that wants to hate the rich; far from it. It is a country where being rich is not treated the same way it is treated everywhere else; it is something to aspire to, especially through hard work and perseverance.

The problem with Mitt Romney is that he is running a terrible campaign and he is stonewalling on his tax returns. He is a terrible politician who is fast becoming the poster child for being out of touch, too rich, and indifferent to political realities.

Nobody wants to hate Romney; people want to like him, but he is too used to holding his nose and stiff-arming the little people. He is an order giver, not a politician. He has failed to find his true calling in life, and, for that, we are now suffering.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Understanding Hillary Clinton


Reuters has a magazine article up on Hillary Clinton that is definitely worth looking at. This stood out:
the more Clinton waxed on about Suu Kyi, the more I thought that she was also talking about herself—a celebrity first lady with a troubled marriage who could have chosen to opt out of politics entirely but instead launched a whole new career as an ambitious United States senator turned combative presidential candidate before morphing yet again over the last few years into the most globetrotting top diplomat in American history. "When I was first lady," recalled Clinton, "I could say anything I wanted to say, and I often did." Here she stopped for one of her trademark deep laughs before adding, "for better or worse." It's a laugh that makes her very human—and also one that immediately calls to mind the many controversies of Clinton's long career. Remember "the vast right-wing conspiracy" that was out to get her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal? And her defiant taunting of Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries, when she said her future boss wasn't nearly experienced enough to take that 3 a.m. phone call? Now Clinton has a different role and a different set of dilemmas: If she speaks too forcefully about human rights, she'll be chided for letting wild-eyed activism get in the way of America's economic interests. But if she fails to bash the Chinese over their harsh treatment of dissidents and brutal suppression of free speech, then she'll be called a sellout. Her shape-shifting career guarantees that Clinton will be criticized at every turn, but it also gives her the opportunity, as she notes about Suu Kyi, "to put into practice everything she's been thinking about and working on her entire adult life."
The reason why it is so difficult for Clinton to speak about human rights is because few of her predecessors did enough on behalf of human rights to give her any room with which to work. Diplomacy is very much a game where you have to walk in the footsteps of your predecessors; for the entirety of the Bush Administration, Colin Powell and Condi Rice were de facto absent from any substantive discussion about human rights. The world suffered mightily for it.

Clinton will always be a victim of sexism and Republican hatred. They despised her then and they despise her now. On substance, she is better than all of them, and they know it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Perfect Way to Change the Subject


American workers aren't all bad, of course. We have plenty of highly skilled people. What we lack are ethical capitalists who actually want to produce things and take measured risks. And, when you think about it, why should they do the right thing? This notion that they can't find workers is yet another wingnut myth--it has no basis in reality.

The current system rewards cutting workers, shedding overhead, and taking a short-term gain instead of investing and growing companies over the long haul. Nobody cares what the profits might be in two or three years; American companies live or die by the next quarter. If the choice is to keep profits flat or cut a thousand workers and see a jump in the value of the stock, guess who's going to be looking for work? The CEO or the thousand workers sacrificed to make things look profitable? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, until, of course, there's no one left to fire.

If we had a tax policy that rewarded job creation and investment, you might see a change in this outlook. But, instead, you have a corporate culture which worships at the altar of cutting, not investing.

One of the biggest enablers of this outright theft of productivity is Tom Friedman. How many times do we need to hear that American workers have no skills? Well, that's all dashed to pieces now, isn't it? The problem is, no one cares.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ignore the Bedwetters


You would think that the Romney campaign would have harsh words for the Obama Campaign and the media, but why do they say such terrible things about the people who are supposedly on their side?
“We went through this in the primary,” the adviser said. “You have a lot of people inside the Beltway, who like to sit back and be armchair quarterbacks, strategists who talk to you and don’t go on the record. We have a plan. We know what the plan is, and we’re going to implement the plan.” 
The adviser added: “We aren’t reacting to what the Obama campaign does. … We aren’t reacting to what Republican strategists do. We’ve got a plan to win. We know what it takes and that’s what we’re going to do. All of this hew and cry, you know, from the bedwetters who get to sit on the sidelines, aren’t going to affect what we’re going to do and our plan.” 
In many ways, the Globe story didn’t break a lot of new ground, as several truth squad reports pointed out. It simply renewed focus on the fact that Romney has always stated that he technically left Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics, while maintaining legal and financial ties to the company that didn’t include actively managing its affairs or investments. 
[emphasis mine] 

As far as I know, the revelation from the Boston Globe article was not wholly explored during the primary campaign, and if it had been, I would think that it would have severely damaged Mitt Romney's credibility. It may not have cost him the nomination, but it sure wouldn't look like the huge deal that it is right now.

I don't know how the working media can parse this any other way. Romney has been caught in a massive lie, and the lie is written into the financial disclosure documents that he submitted in order to allow himself to serve as the head of the Winter Olympic Games and to give himself some distance from Bain Capital's connection to outsourcing jobs to China. He has been caught committing and act of outright fraud, a felony-level financial disclosure crime that likely would have resulted in charges if it had been discovered in the early 2000s when he was trying to elevate his national profile.

And that's what this is really all about--Romney has been caught lying about what he owned, what he was worth, and where his money has been sheltered time and time again. He lied so that he could elevate his status in the political world, not the business world. He has no credibility and he has dubious financial ethics. The idea that a venture capitalist of his supposed experience maintained ownership of Bain Capital and then did not "actively" manage its affairs or investments is the sort of dodge that a lot of people sitting in Federal prison have tried in relation to things like insider trading.

It doesn't matter if he was actively involved (a subpoena of E-mails? internal documents? might further prove or disprove this fact) because that's not the standard for ethical disclosure. You either owned it or you did not; Romney owned Bain Capital for three years longer than he admitted to owning it.

That's something the "bedwetters" would call a "big fucking deal."