Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After Election Thoughts

No one asked me, so here it is:

Going Back To Failure Ain't A Grand Idea
 My belief is that re-instituting George Bush's policies would have brought on an almost instant depression instead of a recession that we seem to be stumbling our way out o, too slowly but gaining. The recession wasn't wholly Bush's fault, but his emphasis on deregulation certainly helped the banks get too big to fail, very fast, while he stared on in incomprehension while Darth Cheney did whatever Cheney does—pull the strings? Financial affairs absolutely must be regulated, and no bank can be allowed to grow too large to fail. Supposedly, we learned that in 1929, but that generation is mostly gone now, and the lesson has trickled down and disappeared--about like the good from Reagan's trickle down effect. Those banks already in that category need to be forced into more elemental business structures so that a failure doesn't present a row of dominoes that continue to fall.

Bush's reactions included stimuli and TARP, for which Obama has already taken the heat, but neither was truly big enough to give instant relief. Romney was, like WalMart, a roll-back type. And as at WalMart, rollback was mostly bullshit.

Why The Republican Loss
The Republicans, at least according to current conventional wisdom, have twice now been voted down because they refuse to admit that our society is no longer made up of mostly white people with a few blacks tossed in to pepper the stew. Some of those peppers are now chilis, and the LBGT community has grown in power, so that's three large, and growing, groups that went the other way. Add to that Romney's arrogance--his 47% remark was meant only for the elite, and helped to destroy his candidacy when it was released--and his wife's similar attitude: "You people have enough information", which, "we" generally agreed we didn't. Us peasants. I still believe Romney's refusal to release more than two years of tax returns was a sign that he was hiding things. It wouldn't have looked fantastic for a super-patriot to have paid no income tax for most of eight or ten years, so he refused to release his returns. Yes, it would be legal. But the lack of patriotism, the actual anti-Americanism, it would show would have destroyed his campaign on day one of the release. So, no release. The counter-arguments about Obama's college records was asinine. When on earth have school record releases been a requirement for the Presidency? Only in the minds of the Tea Party. That particular argument again hurt the Republicans. It does seem, too, that a great many Republicans are afraid of women, to the point of disliking them and making it evident where they can be overheard, after passing laws many women feel intrude on their persons in ways not done to men.

The best event of the entire election cycle: Karl Rove's on-air meltdown when Obama was declared the winner early by Fox. The little worm deserved everything bad that went through his mind then, including wondering if the Kochs would hire a hit man for the guy who pissed away 300 million Republican generated bucks on a "can't lose" proposition and then lost. He's so oleaginous, it won’t be surprising if he finds a way to reinsert himself into the party, though. And now, Gingrich is stumping around wondering how it happened. It strikes me as odd that the Republicans who attacked Romney the hardest during the primaries don't understand that those very facets of his personality they pointed up were the problem. Hell, the Democrats could have won going away if they'd just re-aired the Republican primary commercials and speeches about Romney.

Prognostications..But Not from Me
As to what the future brings fiscally, no one has any real ideas. We all have a lot of hope, but until he of the orange face, Boehner, manages to form some kind of working relationship with both President Obama and the rest of his party, we're stuck with what we've had for too much of the past four years: maladroitness and something very close to the gridlock DC residents face driving to work every morning. Eventually, they get there, though, and I won't know if the U.S. will. If we get two more years of "Party of No" from the Republicans, I'd almost bet half will be voted out of office in 2014.

Of course, term limits provide at least a partial solution. Unfortunately, the very people who would implement term limits are those who are staying in Congress and becoming professional politicians. I don't believe that kind of political scene was what the Framers intended, but there's nothing to prevent it in the Constitution. Probably the only way it can be done is a grassroots movement that allows the incumbents to remain as long as they are reelected. The next elected officeholders get out in a single term. Of course, that poses another problem for the incumbents: what happens if people pay attention and vote them out! If they came back two or six years down the road they'd only get a double term or whatever is allowed. Personally, I'd like to see a three-term limit for Congressmen, two terms for Senators and a single six year term for President. That would stir some stumps.

I don't expect anything like that to be enacted in my lifetime, even if I live to my Aunt Eugenia's age of 97. 

Tough Times
I disagree on the times currently really being all that tough for most people, though many of us are in—er, reduced circumstances. Thinking back to what I've been told of the Depression, our Great Recession has been a minor inconvenience for many and a disaster for very few, relatively speaking. I go into VA and almost no matter the time of day, the roads flow with vehicles, restaurants are busy, malls are overflowing, and money is moving. I pulled into a Hardee's (a regional fast food chain with great biscuits) last week to get a biscuit and some coffee, and the line circled the building and went into the street. We still don't go out for dinner on weekends because of the crowds at decent restaurants. I look around and the vehicles I see today are still those no one with a grain of sense buys and drives any more--which shows how few have a grain of sense, I guess. SUVs and four door pick-ups in abundance. I know there are those out there who cannot afford to change--hell, I'm one of them, with this damned Taurus POS station wagon. We owe too much on that to get rid of it for another year, while it continues to drink gas at a 23MPG clip. 

Certainly I'm more cramped for cash than I'm used to. My 2008 book on woodshops never came close to paying back its advance...the timing was terrible as everyone was worried about every buck, and few people wanted to spend time dreaming of, or building, a hobby woodworking shop. No trade publishers since have been up for my ideas. I have two books and an article plan up on Amazon. So far, sales are abysmal, at best. That is mostly my fault. I have yet to find a key to selling the books that doesn't make me feel like a charlatan or jackass or both. I realize that with the Internet, I need to put my personal feelings aside, and do the clown act, the door-to-door sales bullshit, but I thought I had bailed out of that after an abortive few weeks selling encyclopedias in NYC. In 1962. Like a great many people my age, I've been brought up to be reticent about most of my accomplishments. I didn't even realize that my middle nephew didn't know I'd been in the Marines until I asked him something about his local Marine Corps League detachment. Marty was born during my last year in the Marines!

Messing with SS and Medicare
I paid into Social Security from the time I was 14 until some time maybe 52 years later, plus a couple years since I "retired". Yet that is one of the programs Boehner and his ilk wish to tear apart, that and Medicare are on their chopping block. There certainly need to be changes, with the foremost being a removal of the top income limits for the deductions. That's nearly a cure alone. Medicare needs to be allowed to do as the VA does: bargain for prices on drugs and services.

Losers and Winners
Tim Kaine beat up pretty well on George Allen. It is to be hoped that Allen will now go back to practicing corporate law where he might actually do some good, if good is what corporate lawyers do. He was one of the least fiscally responsible governors we've had in recent years: I guess he inherited that from his father. George Allen Sr. was touted by the then owner of the Redskins (Jack Kent?) as having been given an unlimited budget which he then exceeded. The nut doesn't fall far from the tree. Allen was a pissant Senator for his term, too, voting for expensive program after expensive program.

We've been behind on education, but, so far, no one has tried to get much of a tax passed. It wouldn't make it in our current climate. Of course, we've got Republicans all over the place touting a new voter ID card, with photo and laminated, for all eligible voters in the country. I think that's maybe 200 million people. It strikes me as nuts that the party that wants to save money around the clock is wildly in favor of doing something that would be very expensive for a problem that barely exists. It's a little like replacing all the plumbing in a home because one faucet is dripping. At a rough estimate, each ID would cost about six bucks. That's includes hiring people to shoot photos, take in the info and print it out, then laminate it all. I mean, what's a billion bucks between friends? The saying--Sam Rayburn's?-- that "a million here, a million there and sooner or later it adds up to real money" may be changed to "a billion here, a billion there" today.  

It all beats an added two or three cents gasoline tax to improve our roads...doesn't it? I don't think so.

Electoral College
This time around, we had no real reason to complain about the electoral college after the election, and, while Romney led, Fox was delighted with it, as was Rove. I'm not really convinced one way or the other on this one. It does provide for some neat moments, as with Rove's babbling breakdown on Fox, but otherwise, it's probably not necessary. We do need to do something about those areas where it takes too long to vote. Places around the country, all urban though often small urban like Roanoke, had waits of upwards of 90 minutes, some many hours. If that continues, election day needs to be made a Federal holiday (and we really don't need any more Federal holidays, though this one would be once every four years, because the lines do not build as badly for other elections).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Acrimony for All

I've voted in a lot of Presidential elections, but the mean-mindedness this time around is close to unbelievable.

I'm not talking about the candidates themselves, but about two things coming from different angles: PACs and citizens (and certainly more than a few non-citizens) on the Internet. I've just been reading through a series of responses that detailed Romney's ministerial service in France during the peak of the Vietnam War; some of the responses were rational, but others not so. I did get a kick out of several who chastised President Obama for not serving during 'Nam. Considering his age ranged from about four to about fourteen during that war, he would have been a real phenomenon. Romney had college draft deferments before he got ministerial deferments; college deferments were the norm for students in those days.

Romney, though, was something of a war hawk, carrying placards in support of the war. That reminds me somewhat over everyone's favorite action hero, John Wayne: he got through WWII without serving because his studio had him declared 4F. During the height of the Vietnam protests, Wayne was a war hawk, verbally abusing the young men who dodged the draft by going to Canada.

Then, and now, the U.S. seems to have developed a trend towards fighting wars that are less than imperative, making serious, and costly in terms of lives and materiel, attempts to bring democracy to those who neither want it nor have the cultural background to use it. The wonder of seeing purple thumbs on voters in places like Afghanistan wears off when one sees that one form of dictatorial government is replaced with another that quickly moves towards similar practices.

The level of acrimony during the Vietnam War years was nothing compared to what it is now. I've never been called as many names as in recent months. I do wonder sometimes just how many people change their minds because an anonymous poster verbally abuses them. A hint of a rational reason for changing one's vote might help, but being called a Libtard or Repugnican doesn't seem the way to make great progress.

As I've written before, the anonymity of the Internet is responsible for this freedom to cuss others out with no retaliation beyond a few easily ignored words. It's probably my age, but I do miss people standing up and personally taking responsibility for what they say and how they say it.

In the meantime, consider the two logos here. Christmas is coming. The Marine Corps League and the Marine Corps Reserve are accepting donations for children for this season's coming tree.