Jan 25, 2012

Obama Delivers a SOTU Speech Outlining His Campaign Themes. [But, will he revert back to a soft, compromising, and ineffectual style?]

Good speech by the president in the SOTU address, which revealed the main themes of his re-election campaign. Obama is a centrist and will play to the so-called independents and the "floaters"--which, for now, have left but many can be convinced to return, especially given the Republican challengers this year.

There are many reasons why we progressives can't stand the conservatives and this loony, extremist Republican party. Yes, that party whose ideology and public policy proposals go against the vast majority of Americans, in spirit and as public policy.

Obama talked about those American values that unite us. Well, let's see, what are those values, besides nationalism, patriotism, American exceptionalism-center of the universe, "support the troops," motherhood and apple pie?

I'll take them in order as Obama mentioned them, without the president being blunt and drawing his highlight pen to expose the Republicans as the ones against those American values.

1. Tuition assistance and generally the cost of education. Access to opportunity, and, of course, having an educated population is good for the US. The Republicans are against grants, tuition assistance, and want the ..marketplace to price education.

2. Immigration. Well, need I say more? OK, I will. The GOP is hostage to a shrinking but still xenophobic base that is more concerned with "border security" and arresting and expelling anyone who lacks documentation (heck, anyone who can't produce papers on demand). Giving amnesty to all those who have benefited from a hard-working, low-paid labor pool is fine with the Republicans, but giving a path to citizenship to those who have been here more many years, are productive, have paid taxes, and have stayed out of trouble, well, this is a no-no for the Republicans.

3. Public funds for scientific research. What is science anyway? It's just some theories who have gaps and the ..liberal scientists are conjuring up hoaxes on the American people... according to many Republicans. We have no money for science, we must balance the budget... unless we have to pay for another war against Iran. The Republicans are against funding for science and exploration, and research for alternative energy, etc.

4. Public projects. We built them even during the Great Depression and under sensible Republicans like Eisenhower. Not any more according to Republicans today. Infrastructure, communications, the internet, national parks, and even electrification were some of the deeds the GOP has opposed.

5. Regulations about consumer protection, conservation, environment, reckless Wall Street practices, etc, are all opposed by the Republicans.

6. Extending the payroll tax breaks to the middle class workers is opposed by the Republicans. Yet the GOP is in favor of keeping the Bush tax cuts for the millionaires!

7. The super rich like Romney pay a lower percentage of taxes than the middle class. I don't see why the millionaires (and anyone who earns over that amount) couldn't pay more. The Republicans oppose that, even when the country was about to default in paying its bills (many expenses a Repub prez and a Repub Congress authorized), because the GOP wanted to shove it to anyone (98% of Americans) but the rich.

What I find fascinating is that a major political party can advocate for policies that go against the interests of the vast majority of Americans, and even against what the public wants right now [ie, spend to create jobs as opposed to balancing the budget], and yet this party is allowed to have so mach political power. The Republicans should not be allowed to govern, because they don't believe the government can do anything well or any good--unless it's about fighting the evil doers. Oh, and tell us how not to fuck.

It's going to be an interesting campaign season. Have I mentioned that I endorsed Newt for the Repub nomination?  I could go with Mittens but I think the campaign for the general election might be too much about style and personalities. However, with Newt being the GOPer, we may finally have the debate about the kind of conservatism inappropriate for in America of the 21st century and beyond. It's about time the conservative vision and policy proposals are clearly defeated and dismissed for good. Maybe then a more modern Republican party can emerge. That would be good for the country.

Jan 19, 2012

GOP and the Rich: Don't Offend God by Engaging in Class Warfare!

"When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus 1 percent," ... "you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God."  Mitt Romney

So, I found out that the presidential candidates are a lot like the rest of us, except they have multiple houses and millions of dollars in wealth. Oh, and that Mitt Romney pays less in taxes that I do.

Oh, and when we raise the issue of wealth, benefits, privileges, influence, power, etc, we're accused of ..class warfare. The lord of the manor, Mr. Romney, probably thinks we're committing ..sacrilege for challenging the divine order of the universe, in which the rich get richer and the middle class--the arrogant and inglourious basterds--is falling further behind. 

The gaps between the middle class and the poor is also growing, not because the middle class is advancing but because poverty is increasing in the US. Personally, I don't feel better off when more people fall behind me. If I'm not moving while a fraction of the top captures most of the wealth generated, then I have no problem committing sacrilege. As for "class warfare" it seems to me that the ..war is over and the elites have won it!

The Republican Debates 
I wanted to watch their debates and even discuss the main points, you know, see why we differ in values, priorities, and public policy. But, it's hopeless. I really tried. It's painful and not even worth discussing the bumper sticker statements these candidates are using to excite the very conservative crowds attending the debates. Indeed, they cheapen the dialogue by appealing to the lowest common denominator. They cheapen their stature if any of them becomes, gasp, president.

Take for example, Gingrich's statement (which was met with roaring applause) that ..Obama put more people on food stamps than any other president of recent. Hmm. People falling into poverty and ..applying for food assistance is Obama's fault. There's no logic in this. Or, that the constant Republican motto, "Get a job!" Well, 1/3 of those who receive food stamps work. Assuming someone makes minimum wage, and assuming (big "if" here) he has a full-time job, that may not be enough to meet basic needs, especially if there's family involved. These wages, vary form $5.15 to 9.04, nationally--though there are 9 states that have no MW or is below the fed standard of $7.25. [US Dpt of Labor] Working FT making $300 a week isn't a lot, and if the Repubs had their way, there would be no minimum wage. Plus the lower working class would have to use these 300 bucks to buy food, health insurance, and an education.

But, We're So Much Better Off Than Those Euros

Paul Krugman wrote this the other day, and, as usual, he nailed it: 

"The Times recently reported ["Harder for Americans to Rise"]on a well-established finding that still surprises many Americans when they hear about it: although we still see ourselves as the land of opportunity, we actually have less intergenerational economic mobility than other advanced nations. That is, the chances that someone born into a low-income family will end up with high income, or vice versa, are significantly lower here than in Canada or Europe.
And there’s every reason to believe that our low economic mobility has a lot to do with our high level of income inequality.
Last week Alan Krueger, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, gave an important speech about income inequality, presenting a relationship he dubbed the “Great Gatsby Curve.” Highly unequal countries, he showed, have low mobility: the more unequal a society is, the greater the extent to which an individual’s economic status is determined by his or her parents’ status. And as Mr. Krueger pointed out, this relationship suggests that America in the year 2035 will have even less mobility than it has now, that it will be a place in which the economic prospects of children largely reflect the class into which they were born."

But, we live in a la-la land, where conservative memes, like viruses, still roam the minds of millions of our compatriots. Like, more wealth to the top, fewer taxes [I shouldn't be too upset that Romney pays less % in taxes than I do, especially after learning the GE paid no taxes!], and less protection for the consumer and the environment lead to more prosperity and, of course, more freedom. Tsk...