Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Not Romney

A lot of attention has been put on the "Not Romney" vote.  Partly because it is a real thing in elections for an alternative candidate to develop and partly because there is a sizable Republican opposition to Mitt Romney.  But one dimension never seems to come up: the three Republican subgroups.

The Not Romney vote is not monolithic, and it is hard to imagine anyone but Romney winning, but there is a very real, very important battle going on through this primary.  Which Republican subgroup is in charge.  Is it The Intellectual Right?  Or The Moral Minutes?  Or The Conservative Libertarians?  Or The Neocons?  Oh, who am I kidding!  They won't nominate a neocon.  But, the strangely unexamined "Tea Party Vote" is made up of the strange bedfellows of conservative libertarians obsessed with reducing the influence of government to the pebble each individual carries around in his pocket as a souvenir of his own liberation and the social conservatives who are eager to ramrod government into every issue of sexuality while forcing "tough love" on the poor.  Pundits seem to be utterly oblivious to the obviously conflicting political systems.

Romney occupies the space of The Intellectual Right.  They've already ordained him to be their guy.  The problem is that The Moral Minutes hate him and the Conservative Libertarians hate him.  And, as Iowa and now New Hampshire are showing, the "Not Romney" vote can't rally to one opponent yet.  The CLs won't go to Rick Santorum, since he is more Washington and more "big government" than Romney.  He is also far too socially conservative for the free-wheelin' libertarian set.  And for as much as many MMs might like what Ron Paul has to say about government, he doesn't care about their core issues: sex, sex, and sex.

With a decent showing in NH, Jon Huntsman might make a play on the "I'm white bread like Romney, but I don't taste like confliction" image and could find himself positioned as the close-enough-to-be-but-good-thing-he's-not Romney vote.

But the early results show another strong showing for Ron Paul.  Which begs the much better question than who is the Not Romney candidate: Would the GOP really go full-on libertarian?  Movement conservatives have been hard driving the economic policies in that direction for the last decade.  So is this the time?  And what would happen to the Moral Minutes?  What happens to the GOP if it is no longer the broad conservative party, but the narrow conservative libertarian party?  And why doesn't the media seem to think this is even possible?  Have they slept through the last three years?  If there ever was a time for the conservative base to reject the Intellectual Right's pick, it is now.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fill in post

Here is my Technorati code: XAZWJQVJZDN9. It is only relevant to the search robot that Technorati uses to determine if this is really my site.  Once it deems me to, in fact, be me, then I will remove it.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Newt's Singular Advantage

In the Republican field for president, much has been made of the not-Romney vote's titanic swings around the field gesticulating wildly toward whomever looks less like Mitt.  Few acknowledge the two important pieces that make up that vote: the hard-liners and the haters.  The hard-liners being the Tea Party crowd that want a firebrand in office and the haters are the ones who really want ABR (Anybody But Rommey).  But fewer still are admitting one trait of Newt's that could land him a plum seat at the dance: he is known for being someone "who has ideas".  And at a time like this, that matters more than anything.

My own experience shows what happens when things look grim: we look at the guy who isn't just smartest, but the guy who has "ideas".  The one who has the big plan to get us out of a mess.  We want the silver bullet that will change everything.  We want, we demand, that our leaders come up with such a plan.

None of the people running have given out a real plan, a specific-enough-sounding plan, to make us go "Yes!" but one will come.  When Herman Cain said "9-9-9" people went "Ooooh!  Shiny baubles!  This man has a plan!"  Then of course, his plan was ripped to shreds for being ridiculous.  But people supported him for a couple of weeks after that, simply because he had a weird plan!  He had an idea!

Enter: Newt.  The man known for having ideas.  Known for throwing random stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks.  It helps that he debates well and doesn't look lost under the bright lights.  It helps that Evangelicals are willing to overlook a truly despicable personal character and a disturbing lust for power.  He has been in Washington and out (sort of).  Really, he isn't the absurd candidate he is taken for.

The one feather in his cap; the one he is saving; is one that would be really, really important in a general election against the seemingly pragmatic President Obama.  He comes up with ideas.  And people think nobody in Washington is doing that.  As long as Newt has that secret weapon, there is nothing Romney can do to secure the nomination without a bloody battle to the end.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Reagan, Stupid!

When are the people going to point out that economic inequality, the principles that crashed the economy, and the political circus that has embroiled the last couple of years can all be traced to one strangely popular political figure?  A figure who, while running for president, was told that his economic theories were "voodoo economics"?  A figure who frequently abandoned those policies during his time in office to actually save us from his tax cuts by raising taxes?  A figure who is so adored by his disciples that they are completely ignorant of much of what his presidency entailed?

Unfortunately, most people won't bring up the specter of Ronald Reagan because the memory of him is so beatified through rosy glasses of total ignorance.  The only parts of Reaganomics that were worked were, at best, tweaks of ongoing, mainstream thinking.  Everything else, the parts about privatizations, unregulating, union-busting, and tax cutting led to no more than modest growth while simultaneously ballooning debt, and dramatically redistributing wealth to the tippity-top of the wealth pile.  The basic philosophy has been discredited by most honest economists.

And yet, this philosophy is seemingly stronger now than at any point since 1981!  I fear that this is due to two things:

  1. The Reagan Cult: The slavish, cultish devotion to Reaganomics despite the insurmountable evidence should be more shocking, but it isn't even surprising.  The cult does not begin with the real Reagan presidency, however, but with the theory that it should work because we  believe it will.  The cult then goes and rewrites history to somehow blame the Great Depression on those that dragged us out of it kicking and screaming.
  2. The Rand Cover: The other reason is that Reagan's popularity gives cover for many conservatives to espouse economic rationales that don't come from Reagan, but from Ayn Rand.  Her extreme support, not only of greed, but of super, strata-elites that would magically bestow the illusion of equality upon the world with magic pixie dust because, after all, generous people are truly evil and the selfish are morally good.

It doesn't really matter which it is, because the current economic conditions date to the excessive debt-creation that began under Reagan through tax cuts and unregulated environments that led to more corporate consolidation than to price reductions.  The two platforms of the last 30 years that were supported by Republicans and slightly modified by Democrats in the 1990s.  But the whole structure is corrupt.  The only way for us to get out of our current economic and political morass is by dealing with its source.  No matter how unpopular that prospect is.  And the source of the problem is Ronald Reagan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

If Corporations Are On Strike, Then Bust Them

“Job creators are essentially on strike."
Those words, intended to strike fear in the hearts of the country, while also delivered with a reminder that what will stabilize the country is hope and optimism, were delivered by House Speaker John Boehner in a speech today. 

Boehner named what liberals have been saying for the last two years: that businesses aren’t hiring on purpose.  Now, he is making the tired claim that it has to do with “economic uncertainty” which has always begged the question about when the mythical “economic certainty” actually occurred in the modern era.  And yet, he is still making the claim.  Boehner’s analogy is pitch perfect…for Democrats.  It’s simple: he opened the foundation for the Republican position by using labor terms.  The pieces are there:
  • Republicans have long used union-busting as an excuse for economic growth.
  • They worship President Ronald Reagan’s ghost for busting the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.
  • Boehner, perhaps unintentionally, has invoked a vision of wealthy, multinational corporations as unions.

So if corporations are on strike, then how about busting them!  Here’s how:
  1. Have the country strike competitive fear into the hearts of corporations by going toe-to-toe with the banks and energy companies with new public utilities,
  2. Hiring scores of workers, proving that corporations aren’t actually job creators,
  3. And enforce the communications laws and laws of incorporation that are on the books.

If we are to trust that multinational corporations are the only job creators, that laissez faire economics is the rule, and that open markets are the only way, then let’s actually see how they compete with the government.  Will they innovate and prove us wrong?  Great!  We’ll have jobs!  If they fail, then at least we still have jobs!  This is a win-win situation.

Otherwise, maintaining our current situation by allowing corporations to be “essentially on strike” and doing nothing about it is entirely lose-lose.  Or at least lose-lose for the 99%.  In the “economically uncertain” times of today, the 1% are raking it in.

The pieces are there: who will pick them up?

P.S.  Read the Plum Line's "Two sentences from John Boehner's speech".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Gilded Age of Media

When faced with something they find confusing, most journalists give up.  They don’t do the real legwork of engaging the story.  They write the “process story” instead.  You’ve read the kind in which the author doesn’t actually write the story about the intended subject’s work, but how confusing that work is.  They trot out tired tropes about nails and Jello and hammering something when they should be spending a few minutes actually engaging the material.  I’m just saying.

So we’ve now spent the last four weeks hearing from the news media that Occupy Wall Street has this messaging problem and “nobody” can explain what they want.  [Hello!  They actually wrote a document forever ago!] Blah blah.  Some stuff about how they have no goals or direction.  Blah blah.  Then something about what Republicancongresspersons say about them.  Blah blah.  Then some personal anecdote revealing the journalist’s secret disdain for anything outside the norm of beltway horserace-jargonedpolitics.  Totally lazy and inappropriate.

Here’s the problem:

In late 2009, when people started a movement chanting the famous Reagan quote: “Government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem” while complaining about having that said government collect any taxes at all, but were also (apparently) satisfied with the current tax rates (taxed enough already?), the media fawned all over them and now talk about the consistency of their message.

In late 2011, when people started a movement changing the famous Reagan quote to say: “Wall Street is not the solution to our problems, Wall Street is the problem” while complaining about said Wall Street’s collective dramatic windfall over the last 30 years at the expense of, well, virtually the entire country, suggesting we raise taxes on the top 1% and alter the lax regulated environment, the media got flummoxed and stared at each other totally confused and dumfounded.  What are they talking about?  It sounds like complete gibberish!

Clearly the media has swallowed the blue pill and decided that a message that is anti-government and inconsistent about taxes is clear and concise, while a message that is anti-Wall Street excess and social contract devastation is some massive word jumble.  Clearly, the Tea Party, which began with the fervor of some ideological firebrands that are strongly libertarian was long ago co-opted into long-term conservative think tank arguments.  That the Tea Party is at once referencing both grassroots libertarians and die- hard social conservatives who have been in Washington for two decades should be more confusing to pundits.  And yet that message is taken for granted: it is not only domesticated, it is normal.  Average.  The way of conservative politics these days.

At the same time, the media is loath to examine the very substance of this rhetoric, instead, they would rather spend their time writing the horserace story about which Republican is up in the polls.  If they are forced to cover the #Occupy movement, they’ll just phone in a process story.  I mean, really, who wants to deal with the actual substance of income inequality and corporate greed.  That’s so…quaint. 

Welcome to the new Gilded Age.