Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Campaign note: Obama or the deluge (no kidding)

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Readers of mine should not be under the impression that I am a big fan of Obama's or of the Democrats... I wrote this back in 2008:
I find myself against almost everything that the Republicans stand for, but at least they seem to truly stand for what they say they stand for (although many evangelicals doubt this). I respect that quality, even in a jerk like Bush... He defends his people (the very, very rich) to the bone. But the Democratic Party to use highly technical language, really, really, sucks: with few exceptions, a herd of Judas Goats leading the poor to slaughter, bells a tingling.
Having said that I still say Obama is a better pick than Romney.
Here is what Roger Cohen writes today in the Washington Post:
On the movie screen, Robert F. Kennedy’s appeal is obvious: authenticity. He cared. He showed it. People saw that and cared about him in return. With Obama, the process is reversed. It’s hard to care about someone who seems not to care in return. I will vote for him for his good things, and I will vote for him to keep Republican vandals from sacking the government. But after watching Bobby Kennedy, I will vote for Obama with regret. I wish he was the man I once mistook him for.
I realize that voting for Obama is not an attractive proposition; it's a little like having your leg cut off to save you from dying of gangrene... but that is the only thing on the menu. The Republican party is now in the hands of rogue billionaires who are stimulating fascism in order to evade taxes and regulation... They want to even go back and repeal the reforms of Teddy Roosevelt. This is really that simple: avoiding a ultra-right coup d´etat. DS

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why it is essential that Barack Obama be reelected

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No matter what you may feel or think about Barack Obama, no matter how disappointed you may be by his failure to live up to the promises he made in 2008 or the hope he inspired four years ago; it is essential for every progressively minded American to do what they can to keep Mitt Romney out of the White House. The only instrument the American people possess in this case is their vote and the only realistic alternative to Romney is to reelect Barack Obama.
The following clipping from TPM by Sahil Kapur, explains the situation perfectly.
A potential Mitt Romney presidency carries huge implications for the Supreme Court that have conservatives excited and progressives fearful about the future. Liberal-leaning Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79, and Steven Breyer, 74, are likely candidates for retirement during a Romney administration. The GOP nominee has vowed to appoint staunch conservatives, and the influential conservative legal community will make sure he follows through. Replacing even one of the liberal justices with a conservative, legal scholars and advocates across the ideological spectrum agree, would position conservatives to scale back the social safety net and abortion rights in the near term. Over time, if a robust five-vote conservative bloc prevails on the court for years, the right would have the potential opportunity to reverse nearly a century of progressive jurisprudence. For all those reasons, conservative legal activists anticipate that a Romney win would be the culmination of their decades-long project to remake the country’s legal architecture.(...) a Romney presidency — even a one-term presidency — would pose a slow-release threat to key progressive accomplishments, and why small-government conservatives view his candidacy as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (emphasis mine) Sahil Kapur - TPM
The idea of wiping out all the progress made in over a lifetime of legislation and rulings... a veritable coup d'etat by the most reactionary elements in America, is truly too horrible to contemplate. DS

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What are things like in Spain right now? Watch the video.

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See SpongeBob SquarePants duke it out with Hello Kitty in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol… (where the “Indignados” camped out last year). DS

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Romney's biggest lie

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Eye on the bottom line

Except for his sincerely wanting to be president, it is very difficult to locate any truth in Willard Mitt Romney. However, we may be able to take him at his word when he says he believes that his success in making lots of money in business especially qualifies him for the highest office in the land... Sadly, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Lets looks at the historical record of successful businessmen in the White House:
Since Herbert Hoover’s 1928 election, the American people have voted out of office after a single term only three elected presidents: Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush — all of whom were successful businessmen before they were president. And the only successful business-trained president who was reelected, George W. Bush, oversaw an economic collapse at the end of his second term. (...) The startling bottom line is that the nation’s GDP has grown more than 45 times faster under presidents with little or no business experience than it has under presidents with successful business careers. (...) None of the five presidents under whom the stock market has had its best performances — Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower — had significant business experience. Topping the list are the two most recent career-politician presidents, Clinton and Obama, both of whom pursued economic policies that Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, insist are anti-business and economically disastrous. Robert S. McElvaine - Washington Post
Why should this be, when, as Calvin Coolidge said, "the business of America is business"? Why should businessmen, who are so adept at making money, be so inept at leading the nation?
As occurs so many times, the answer to that question is in the question itself.
It's obvious if you think about it... business is first and last about making money. This is not to oversimplify and say that every businessman would do anything to make a buck, many businessmen have a well developed sense of ethics, but finally to lose money is to fail in business and to make money is to succeed.
To succeed in business is not easy, it requires intense concentration and singularity of purpose. The businessman's eye can never be taken off the bottom line and everything he does must ultimately be dictated by that reality. In fact in a publicly traded company not to put the creation of shareholder value first is illegal.
In this business-process all the elements, material and human, that make it up are only contemplated with full attention as they affect profit and loss, they are merely a means to that end. Human beings and their needs and wants become even more abstract when, as in the financial industry, the only element involved in creating profit and loss is the money itself.
Here is how the Slovenian philosopher Zlavoj Zizek explains it using classical Marxist jargon.
Marx located the elementary capitalist antagonism in the opposition between use-value and exchange value: in capitalism, the potentials of this opposition are fully realized, the domain of exchange-value acquires autonomy, is transferred into the specter of self-propelling speculative capital which needs the productive capacities and needs of actual people only as its dispensable temporal embodiment. Marx derived the very notion of economic crisis from this gap: a crisis occurs when reality catches up with the illusory, self-generating mirage of money begetting more money-this speculative madness can not go on indefinitely; it has to explode in ever stronger crises. The ultimate root of the crisis is for him, the gap between use-value and exchange-value: the logic of exchange-value follows its own path, its own mad dance, irrespective of the real needs of real people.(emphasis mine) Slavoj Zizek - Rethinking Marxism
There is the answer to the question of why businessmen make lousy political leaders... In politics, the bottom line is and always has been the "real needs and wants of real people". In politics money is only a means to satisfying those needs and wants or for seducing the population into thinking those needs and wants are being satisfied. If the real needs of real people are not seen to be satisfied, then in democracy the politicians will be voted out of power and in a dictatorship, their lives are in jeopardy. Finally power comes from some form of consent or support from the governed... human  satisfaction not numbers is the objective. The humans are citizens or subjects, not shareholders cutting coupons.
In my opinion businessmen's difficulty in truly putting real people and their real needs at the center of their thinking has been further impaired by the homogenized training they now receive from such MBA programs as Mitt and Dubya's alma mater, Harvard Business School. 
The techniques of the modern "master of business" are supposed to enable him or her to administrate any sort of business using its methods of analysis and action, therefore making the human equation in business even more abstract. You would only have to compare a passionate "car man" like George Romney with his son Mitt to see how things have been changed by this study program in a relatively few years.
The reason then that businessmen fail in the presidency is that nothing in their training and experience, and perhaps even in their personal temperament, has prepared them for the challenges that will confront them once in power, and the values involved in judging their performance in facing those challenges. DS

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mitt got whupped

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Romney Angry
What a poem this man's face is: anger mixed with fear. He almost looks like he is going to burst into tears. I think he knows he is beaten.

It might be more appropriate for Romney's autobiography to be titled "Dreams from my Father", than Obama's.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Barack fights back

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Obama second debate
He was having a ball

I had my doubts for a while, but now I think I might have been right to imagine in a previous post that President Obama threw the first debate, that he deliberately underperformed.
The question would have to be, why take such a huge, deliberate risk?
This is why I think he took that risk.
All the analysts are in agreement (and always have been) that this election is going to be very close... the economy is what it is and getting reelected with unemployment hovering around 8%, if not mission impossible, is mission pretty difficult. Playing it safe could turn out to be a bigger mistake than boldness when everything is playing out within the statistical error of the polls.
Analysts also agree that the Obama campaign was very smart to spend a lot of money early on in defining Mitt Romney as a hard hearted, tin eared, out of touch, clumsy, flip-flopping phoney. This early attack was successful in selling its narrative of Romney to voters before people were as over saturated with attack ads as they are at this stage.
Then why put up such a weak defense in the first debate? Why encourage his opponent's aggression?
My reading is that Obama believed that if he had attacked Romney personally with the same brio in the first debate as he did in the second debate people might have found him overly aggressive.
Why would he think that?
Because there is probably no politician in America, black or white, with a deeper understanding of American race psychology. One of the reasons being that perhaps the most important person in his whole life was a nice, little old white lady from Kansas, the woman who raised him, his own grandmother, Madelyn Dunham.
Here, taken from Wikipedia are some quotes of the president talking about her.
He describes his grandmother as:
"a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. (...) not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity – she doesn't. But she is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know...there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that's just the nature of race in our society.(...) some of the fears of street crime and some of the stereotypes that go along with that were responses that I think many people feel. She's not extraordinary in that regard. She is somebody that I love as much as anybody. I mean, she has literally helped to raise me. But those are fears that are embedded in our culture, and embedded in our society, and even within our own families, even within a family like mine that is diverse."
And if you don't believe racism is alive and well in America, all you have to do is follow the Drudge Report, where a chorus of every imaginable racist dog-whistle is blown daily. I don't think a white person can get assaulted or mugged by a black person anywhere in America without Matt Drudge covering it, echoing it and trumpeting it. By his numbers, readers appear to lap it up
So I believe that Obama thought that if in the final weeks of the campaign he was going to be able to attack Mitt Romney cruelly, brutally, that he could not be seen to "throw the first punch", to be the aggressor, to be someone with a chip on his shoulder, looking for a fight. His goal is not to be seen as someone who starts fights, but to be the sort of person that the American psyche loves, the hero of every classic western, the person who "finishes fights".
In this case Obama didn't start the fight, he got up off the floor with a bloody nose and fought back.

Mission accomplished. DS

Monday, October 08, 2012

You say you want a revolution... it's staring you right in the face

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The continued slide in median earning power, rather than public obfuscation or even lack of jobs, is America’s real problem. It is the wood as distinct from the trees. It tends to loom larger when the television is off. Edward Luce - Financial Times

What we are witnessing in Europe — and what may loom for the United States — is the exhaustion of the modern social order. Since the early 1800s, industrial societies rested on a marriage of economic growth and political stability. Economic progress improved people’s lives and anchored their loyalty to the state. Wars, depressions, revolutions and class conflicts interrupted the cycle. But over time, prosperity fostered stable democracies in the United States, Europe and parts of Asia. The present economic crisis might reverse this virtuous process. Slower economic expansion would feed political instability and vice versa. This would be a historic and ominous break from the past. Robert J. Samuelson - Washington Post

For almost two centuries, today’s high-income countries enjoyed waves of innovation that made them both far more prosperous than before and far more powerful than everybody else. This was the world of the American dream and American exceptionalism. Now innovation is slow and economic catch-up fast. The elites of the high-income countries quite like this new world. The rest of their population like it vastly less. Get used to this. It will not change.  Martin Wolf - Financial Times
The quotes above are the witness to the seeds of mighty change in the years to come. In them is the embryo of the world of the future.
Capitalism's winning weapon in the great struggle with Marxism-Leninism during the Cold War was the elevating of the former starveling, sans culottes of Marx's Das Kapital into the well fed, healthy, well educated, home-owning, fat, dumb and happy, paid-vacationing, new middle class... that, until not too long, ago made up the majority of Americans, or at least the way most Americans saw themselves or at least their children.
Now all of this is being taken away from them in the interest of technological progress, globalization and fiscal responsibility...
Good luck one-percenters, I have news for you. Today's soon to be déclassé  new middle class are infinitely more dangerous than the 19th century proletariat that Marx thought would be the protagonists of his revolution. We are talking about people with much more education, knowledge of and access to the levers of the economy than the "masses" of former days. In fact this sort of educated malcontent was previously only a tiny minority, but even so was feared as the seed corn of revolution: the "vanguard of the proletariat"... now there are masses of them.
The fools that want to take away these people's "entitlements" are just that, fools. This middle class was created so that rich people could sleep soundly in their beds, while sugarplum fairies danced in their heads.Take away their "life style" and they will devour the perp. DS

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Maybe Obama is actually up to something

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If you study the effect of Obama's stunningly bad debate performance, all the sound and the fury is coming from Obama's supporters. They are electrified, galvanized... to use Samuel L. Jackson catchy phrase they finally seem to have awakened "the f**K up".
Take a look at this video from Jon Stewart and you'll see how electrified and awakened they may have become.

Thinking this all over and being a firm believer in the Occam's razor, I am left with only two possible conclusions: 
One. Either Obama doesn't care whether he loses the election or not and didn't prepare for the debate at all, or...
Two, that he gave exactly the performance he wanted to give in order to generate exactly the response from his heretofore apathetic base that he desired them to have. 
The third possibility, that the President tried his best and that was all he could  come up with is really too troubling to contemplate at this stage.
Since Obama is known to be obsessively competitive at even the most petty levels, I find it impossible to believe that he just let Romney walk over him. My opinion is that he threw the first debate in order to fire up his dormant base. They are now begging for him to draw blood in the next debate. If he comes out aggressively, nobody, but perhaps  Fox News and Matt Drudge, will ever accuse him of being an "angry negro".
Certainly if Obama gives a sharp and aggressive performance next time, nobody is going to feel sorry for Romney and Obama's campaign will catch on fire.
The only votes that count in elections are those that are actually cast, apathy is the greatest enemy of the 2012 Obama campaign. Now the possibility of a Romney victory becomes a reality and perhaps that will finally "wake" those 2008 voters up. DS

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Debate: Obama could have done worse

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I have always found Obama strangely inarticulate when speaking extemporaneously... always hemming and hawing, er...uh...y'know, er...uh. So I'm surprised he did as well as he did without the teleprompter.
Will this change the way people vote? I doubt it... it would if both were running for a first term... if that were the case Obama would be toast today... However, Obama has been there for four years and as Joe Biden said, "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive" and all Romney is, is talk. So Mr. Hope and Change will probably live to fight another day. DS