Sunday, September 29, 2013

A brief update from the United States of Lunatics

The Tea Party House is like a spoiled brat who puts his hand over your mouth and pinches your nose until you pass out in order to get his way.  

Yes, it was just last summer that the GOP knocked the stock market down just with the threat of a shutdown, now their apparently intent on going through with it.  Too bad we all have to pay the price for their childish behaviour again.

Just so you know:
(T)he health care act at the center of this storm (will) continue its implementation process during a shutdown. That's because its funds aren't dependent on the congressional budget process.
The ACA is the law, the Supreme Court called it constitutional, and its happening anyway, even if the government defaults on paying its other bills.

Further, it would require a Democrat Senate to approve and a Obama to not veto getting rid of the ACA.  As he believes it a signature piece of his Presidency and he believes it important to try to cover the 10s of millions of people without insurance, it is completely irrational to believe that he will do away with it OR really even that he should. 

For comparison, do you think Bush would vetoed a law that would have erased the Bush tax cuts?  Of course he would, even though the tax cuts blew massive holes in our budget with little economic benefit (aside from leaving further in troubh when a real crisis occurred).

So please, if you haven't, write your Representative and Senator, and tell them to do they sane thing:  pass a no condition change in the debt limit.  

We simply don't have the time for this fantasy play.

Super G

PS   I recently sold my business of more than 15 years.  During that time I paid about $9 million in salaries, paid a ton of taxes, and still provided my employees with insurance, even in the one year that I didn't make a dime.  I think the medical device tax in the ACA is poorly implemented and a bad thing.   However, there are good things and concepts in the ACA and it is the only serious attempt to a real issue that 10s of millions of people don't have insurance.  In short, I know what providing health care is like for a small business because I did it.  Being an employer is hard work, but I never accepted and I never will accept that we so economically inept that we cannot take on healthcare, by some approximation, for all.   Fee for service medicine, the insurance industry, and the medical malpractice business have all badly warped medicine in the US, so that cannot remain the status quo.  Perhaps after the tantrums are over and the damage is done, it will shake a little sense and we'll see people actually start trying to govern.






Thursday, November 15, 2012

Its all over and thanks for the fish

Of course people probably don't read The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy any more, nor is it the 80s any more.  Like we now know that tax cuts never trickle down.

Anyway, the election is over so.  You know it is really over when Romney drops all the fake "Moderate Mitt" routine and says PRESIDENT Obama was re-elected by promising free things to African Americans, Hispanics, and the youth.  No wonder it took him two weeks to walk back from the 47% video - it really was him speaking what he thought was the truth.

To think ... Romney kinda sorta of could have been President ... only he wasn't going to despite the titanically terrible debate performance by PRESIDENT Obama in the first debate.  It was momentarily disquieting but the Mittmentum had peaked just prior to the 3rd debate and it was in the bag before Sandy showed her horrific face.

Anyway - it was I predicted last year - Obama over Romney in a close election.

So I'm just saying I told you so - last year. 

I'll admit that I have been taking a somewhat guilty pleasure from watching the GOP's reaction to the Romney's fail:

Karl Rove's insane Denial on Ohio was epic.  Let alone the epic failure of Rove's $300M+ money trap for millionaires.  What was Rove's consolation for them:  if you hadn't wasted $300M+ the results would have been more one-sided.  Ha ha ha ha.  You got nothing - it doesn't matter if the vote % would have been worse because you still got nothing for $300M+. 

Donald Trump's Twitter rant calling for a revolution.  Only to be deleted.  Few proved themselves to be a bigger jack-ass than The Donald.  OMG. 

Romney's shock that he didn't win.   OK, I guess if I had spent 6 years and $100Ms running and could only pick up one swing state, I might be a bit shocked too.  But really, after the 47%, the "severe conservative," the flip-flopping, the binders of women, and the implausible $5T in tax cuts + $2T in new ships at the same time as balancing the budget, I was severely shocked that Romney was as close as he was. 

The loopy attempts to "unskew" the polls only to find out ones not based on 2004 turnout patterns (unlike Gallup and Rassmussen) were pretty darn accurate.  One of the best, PPP, had early on identified the most motivated voters were African Americans ... and, surprise, they showed up. 

"Patriotic" conservatives looking to secede from the Union.  (Man, you really are poor losers.)

Paul Ryan's idiotic contention that because the GOP still has the gerrymandered House, that the GOP didn't really lose the election and still has some kind of mandate.  (Frankly we saw enough Man Dates and Bromancing between Ryan and Romney).

I could go on . . . but you get the point. 

Anyway, I am still worried by how the close the election was.  If the GOP can manage to suppress 0.5% or 1% of the voters they might be able to budge the election results in some key states, and frankly they'll think nothing of disenfranchising any number of voters to win an election. 

So let's get on with it.  Drop the tax cuts for the wealthiest so we don't have to let all of the Bush tax cuts expire and start cutting.  Make it easy on yourselves - just aim to almost balance the budget in 8 or 10 years.  Then go ahead with immigration reform.   There are plenty of things to be done.

But please, but the hate out the gate (for Democrats, progressives, liberals, blacks, hispanics, and gays), it ain't working for you.  

Post note ... my daughter is signing her DI commitment letter this week to play women's lacrosse.  So the world keeps on turning and it is time to move on. 


Friday, September 28, 2012

Mittagedon (Thank you Mr. Romney Redux)

(I am posting a bit on dailykos.com)

A while ago I posted a thank you for Mitt in picking Paul Ryan for the VP candidate.  At that time I was hoping that the Ryan's pick would lead Romney to lay out some of the actual policies that had been stewing in the Tea Party, the public would vote them down, and the GOP might starting turning back towards the center as a result.  At least start putting Grover Norquist at a bit greater distant . . .

Things seemed to be going exactly as I had planned, but now that Mitt is proving to be the ultimate clusterf--- of a candidate things are going awry.  I now fear that when the GOP gets smoked in the election, they are just going to blame it all on Romney being a genuinely crappy candidate, drawing exactly the wrong conclusion again.  This may only lead them to spend four more years screwing the country over by obstructing anything the Obama advocates.

At least Mitt being Mitt is rallying the Democratic base. 

Romney is so generally unlikeable and Obama so vilified by the right-wing media it feels like 50+% of Romney supporters are probably just voting against Obama.   It isn't a very compelling campaign if you have to get voters to vote against the other guy rather than you.  This was why the GOP convention was just a bitch fest without real life.

Perhaps Obama has peaked too early and the eventual pendulum swing will head back to Romney.

The real downside is that I do not believe either candidate has a real plan to address the deficit and the entitlement programs.  Cutting taxes by 20% across the board is purely lunacy, but so is saying the status quo can go on forever.  A trillion dollars in deficit spending a year is an inefficient and untargetted stimulus and it can't go over forever.   The debt is the biggest incertainty faces businesses and the economy. 

I guess time will tell.  When Romney went after the 47% and Ryan's voucher plan got publicity, America by and large recoiled from them.  Hopefully this will suggest at some level to the Right, that we should start with baby steps, like reforming, rather than throwing out programs that worked well for a very long time.  But, the Romney's doubling down on Bushesque tax cuts aimed at benefiting only the richest and international posturing was so destructive that we have lost the chance for meaningful debate.

Oh well.  I thought you were serious for a moment there Mitt.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Scary and Sad (Plus a few comments on the GOP Convention)

Scary and Sad

A huge numbr of voter suppression efforts were launched by the GOP in this cycle and they have sadly succeeded in a number.  This has dramatically affected voter registration in places like Florida and will effectly block numerous people from voting in this cycle.  In each case, the efforts will disenfranchise people in both parties, but the always predominantly Democrats.  Is a shallow, heinous, and particularly anti-American activity.  Anyone who continues to be a member of the party that actively seeks to block the vote should be ashamed of themselves.

It is fine to have a legimate difference of opinion and impose that if you win an election.  But if you've "won" by suppressing the vote even if it manages to pass legally, you have only stolen the election through the most anti-American path, an immoral path.

If for no other reason, the GOP doesn't deserve to be taken seriously as a guardian of freedom and democracy.  It is currently an enemy of democracy.


GOP Convention

Got thankfully got delayed for a day. 

I got to watch less of it than I wanted to, in particular missing the Romney speech.  It sounds as if he did a pretty good job and his bio-pic was supposed to be most excellent.  The few big names I did see were Ryan and Christie, both of whom were probably well received by the GOP base but suffered problems.  Ryan came off as the heir apparent to Tea Party crown, hammering away effectively with a BOAT LOAD OF LIES (Rynocchio should be his new nickname).  Christie spent a lot of time talking about himself and was taking himself too seriously.  I wish he could have been more loving.  (Or wait, were supposed to be respected not loved, as if you can't do both).  By the way, by loving he means using the government to provide aid to the poor.  By respectable he means cutting aid the the poor and cutting taxes for the rich.   Hmmm.  

I'll probably try to catch the Clint Eastwood debacle on You-Tube or something.  Between my 86 year-old Dad and the snips I saw of the 82 year-old Eastwood, I can tell you that there are a lot of ups and downs in the elderly.  Some days they are on and some days they aren't.   I'm pretty sure I'd prefer Eastwood to turn in his driver's license pretty soon, because the bad days aren't looking too good.

I spent some time reading the GOP platform, which is more coherent and useful than anything I got from the convention.  It is kind of long though.  It also sounds more positive.

This Daily Show segment sums up a bit of why this country is screwed up (which is what can happen when one party decides to screw the President at all costs to the country) in his commentary on the Romney speech.




DNC Convention Suggestions

Shorten it to two days.   You'll do better.  

Don't bad mouth Republicans by saying they are destroying the country, but bring up some of Ryan's lies and bring out what experts actually say about Romney's budget.   One of these lies is who brought us to the brink of defaulting on the debt:  Tea Party House Republicans.  The Republicans spent so much time running down the President that by tempering your language you will reinforce the image of the GOP as angry white guys.

(Probably not possible) Start propoosing some cuts you think are necessary in the future to balance he budget.

Don't fear raising taxes on the rich.  They have had huge tax cuts already.  If you are too chicken, at least point out that the GOP plans further burden the poor in order to give further wealth (and hence power) to the richest people.

Portray some depth on abortion before pointing out if the GOP platform is adopted even the woman who the subject of the most violent and heinous rape you can construct, would no longer be able to ask for an abortion.   (Hint hint - hormonal birth control won't be far behind abortion if the GOP gets control of government).

You got Bin Laden, courageously saved us from a global depression by stepping into the financial markets, enabled millions more to get health insurance, etc.   The GOP has done little in the last four years (which is what happens when you dedicate yourself to obstructing everything and compromising on nothing).

You must get serious about the deficit and if you do, the GOP will be in huge trouble for years to come.

Lastly, let us know how the hell we are going to get out of Afghanistan.  It is time and Romney couldn't even talk about it.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snidely Whiplash

oh forgive me . . .  I was thinking about Mittens.

This is an incomplete post, but I am tired of thinking about it.


Minor Ayn Rand-ness

I drove my son to school at GW on Friday.  On the way we discussed how the villians of the Atlas Shrugged rig the rules to take intellectual property and bounty of others work to profit themselves.  The heroes are not interested in great wealth, but they are interest in reward equal to their efforts.  All of them are innovators (Galt) or have vision that lead them outside the norm.  Most of them start at the bottom and work.  If firms like Bain and individuals like Romney profit by hollowing out failing companies rather than innovating on their own, protect themselves by special tax loop holes, and otherwise utilize rules specifically designed to profit them, they are not Rand's heros, they are exactly her villians. 

Anyway, Atlas Shrugged is a great read.  It is an interesting personal response to communism. 


I am an entrepeneur and a tax cut on my upper rate won't help my business or you

At least, I sometimes count myself as one, though obviously not the best one.  I started a company that has survived for more than 15 years.  Started with zero employees and bootstrapped to over 20 employees, I have paid millions of dollars in salaries over the years, provided excellent health insurance, and matched my employee retirement contributions.  My company survived the recession, but we're finding it very hard to get back to our peak.  It is very slow and remains very scary at times.

Along the way I've provided some innovative programming code and ideas that we implemented in our company.  This code has turned up used verbatim in India (with copyright info removed) and carried away by ex-employees to my competitors.   If I was big enough I might be able to sue some people, but that is a lot easier said than done.   As a small business, I have pretty little leverage to go after companies abroad and it would be laughable for me to go after some of the big names in my business, they are nearly billion dollar companies.

It has been a lot of hard work for a long time.  In that time I've helped numerous companies with products that have become market leaders in their area.  Sometimes the companies have sold for 100s of millions of dollars.  Not that I gave them their inventions, but I provided them expertise in my area, sometimes rescuing them from their own mistakes, all at a reasonable price.

Anyway, in this particular area, I have walked the walk. 

So, I can confirm for you that if my upper tax rate goes from 35% to 29%, it won't make an iota of difference to me and I won't employ a single extra employee as a result.  I will simply keep the difference.  So, Republicans, do it if you want, but realize that the Romney tax plan will do nothing for the middle class.  Even worse, even David Stockman called it, the Romney plan will only make the deficit worse. 


Faith-based Objectivism is an Oxymoron

There was a reason Ayn Rand was an athiest, for this she was not a hypocrit.








Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thank you Mr. Romney

[made a few spelling and grammar fixes 8/12]

Finally, with the vultures starting to circle, Romney does something beyond riding his virtually German engineered campaign machine.  It was a wonderful machine, like a high-end Mercedes, that we were all jealous of, but it was in the process of getting beat by a dirty American muscle car.  So Romney needed to juice it up and Romney did to the benefit of all by picking Paul Ryan.

Romney's nonsense tax plan gets a synposis in the highly-biased non-Fox-factual NY Times.  Ryan's original plan includes a frontal assault on government social programs and specifically Medicare, which it proposes to voucherize and throw back to the states.  I suspect this won't be too popular or an easy sell with the majority of Americans.  However, Ryan, unlike Romney, isn't afraid to answer questions directly, won't have to bury his landmark achievements, and will probably be willing to share his personal taxes.  The GOP will benefit if the Ryan choice helps Romney move out of his give-no-details and blame-everything-under-the-sun-on-Obama campaign and start creating a presence for himself. 

Clearly, I think the Tea Party slash-and-burn vision of government will be a disasterous path to follow.  The last 30 years of deregulation of the banking industry, supply-side economics, unfunded wars, and tax cuts favoring the rich have created massive deficits, degraded the US ability to generate college graduates, ravaged the middle-class, and concentrated wealth and power into the hands a small and disconnected group.  When a hand-picked set of reactionary supreme court judges then gives them unlimited ability to influence elections, democracy in our country is on the way out.

Yet, Mr. Romney's all-in choice for VP gives us an opportunity to debate the big argument that has been bubbling up for the last 50 years in some gory detail.  Are we going to:

Dismantle the social safety net, public education, public infrastructure, legal protections, environmental protections, and anything short of military spending, in order to chase after lower taxes.

OR

Attempt to fix the system with cuts, cost control measures, and increasing revenues.


We need a long-term approach that implements changes in a gradual way to move towards a balanced budget five to ten years from now.  We need it to be based on compromises on both sides.   It will need both more revenue and cuts.  (Perhaps we could loan Grover Norquist to some other country for a decade or so until it was safe to bring him back).

Perhaps it is a wistful hope that if the enough people clearly reject Paul Ryan and the Tea Party's vision of governing, we'll spend the next 4 years trying to find some compromises rather having the GOP spend 4 more years holding the US hostage to its mythical Rand-ian dream world. 

Rumor has it we will see action after the election to move towards a Simpson-Bowles type discussion.  It might happen if Obama wins.   It would be a welcome turn of events.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Mid-Summer Update

Whoa - been busy. . . and lazy when it comes to blogging. My sister's must t'sking at me somewhere. But this won't push the envelope either.

Congratulations to:
  • The US Women's soccer team for winning the gold medal. They got lucky in the final against Japan, but soccer is often a game of controversy. All of the final 4 were playing at a very high level.  Yes, Canada lost a heartbreaker, but the head stomp, the coach's pre-game comments, and post-game whining dissipated most of my sympathies. Unlike Japan who was clearly robbed of a PK, Canada got penalized for their behavior (and not for some highly-illegal head stomping behavior). You lost a tough game to a tough competitor.
  • To the many other athletes from all countries who have made it an entertaining Olympics (but not the Argentinian who popped Carmelo Anthony in the nuts with a low blow).
  • My daughter for getting an offer to play lacrosse at Elon University and verbally committing.
  • NASA for successfully landing Curiosity within a small region within a crater on another planet using heat shields, parachutes, and rockets. I hope I live long enough to see a real person walk on Mars.
  • Global warming denialists for ushering in another record breaking summer of heat and drought, the rest of us look forward to more high minded discussions and brilliant scientific discoveries from you.  Meanwhile we'll do what humans do so well, adapt to a changing environment.
     
I am still stunned by the gaffe-apaloosa that is The Romney's campaign. I am pretty sure that most of those that will be voting for Romney will do it because the hate Obama.

My recent favorites are:
  • The Romney praising the Israelis because their medical system only uses 8% of their GDP, ignoring the fact that Isreal has a centralized healthcare system.
  • The Romney expressing doubt about the Olympics being a success, thus forcing British politicians to attack him.
  • The Romney pretending he doesn't even know when his wife's horse is showing in the Olympics, thus demonstrating that he will choose his image over even his family.
  • The Romney choosing as his farmer the multi-millionaire real estate guy, rather than like a simple farmer who is struggling to save his farm from taxes, etc.
  • The Romney's commercial showing a small businessman who was incensed by Obama's misstep on who builds small businesses, but turns out his business has gotten multiple government loans.
 Message to Romney: having a butt load of money only matters if you actually use the money (smartly).

I am guessing Romney is a reasonable nice guy so long as you don't have something he wants.

If things continue to go bad (and they are), we can expect real weirdness to start coming out of the Romney campaign.

The Obama campaign is an ugly campaign for an ugly time and you might be prone to criticize him until you remember Romney can't even come out and say Obama is a Christian American - born in the US.  That's right, even though Obama has shown his official birth certificate, a sizeable number of Republicans still think the birther stuff is legit and that Obama is a Muslim.  Really?  Romney wants the Democrats to ignore his business career and his hallmark legislative achievement as Governor, yet Romney can't stand up to the birthers?   Did someone forget that Senator McConnell made it priority one to obstruct anything Obama champions?   Compromise doesn't mean that you just do what the Tea Party wants. 
 
 
After years of the nasty hardball from Republicans and the right-wing media machine, it turns out they can't take it from the Democrats. 
 
 
If the MSM were trying to make a reasonable commentary about the roughness and vapidity of the campaign, they would have to start with what constitutes much of the base of the GOP. Civility ended there a long time ago. It has just surprised me that the Dems took off the gloves and decided to fight dirty too.  Funny how fewer and fewer people are buying the hogwash that tax cuts to the rich is the solution to our problems.

In case you are wondering, nothing has changed from my Right Down a Hole post.