Oh come on America…

Come on America, you’re not going to fall for this are you? What Obama has failed to do is down to your bipartisan political system that puts block after block in the way of getting anything like serious change. And if you believe that Romney is going to do anything spectacular in getting the country back to work you are frankly deluded.
Oh, and you’re whinging about $3.90 for a gallon of gas. We have to pay out $10. Count yourselves lucky.

CNN Political Ticker

(CNN) – The New York Daily News and Long Island’s Newsday endorsed Republican nominee Mitt Romney for president, switching from their 2008 pick of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

In an article published in the newspaper’s opinion section Sunday, the Daily News’ editorial board dissected the nation’s economic hardships down to the dollars and cents of an increasingly expensive subway ride to a $3.90 average for a gallon of gasoline.

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Voting and Virginity – what’s the issue?

This post is by way of an appeal to all Americans out there in the blogosphere.  Some of you seem to have your collective knickers in a twist of the latest Obama campaign video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6G3nwhPuR4

The following are just two examples of the ‘anti’ reaction:

“The more we talk about it in this campaign, the more insulting it is to women,” (Kellyanne Conway – Republican strategist,  on CNN’sPiers Morgan Tonight.”

“As a woman I am extremely offended. The Obama administration has devolved women  to nothing more than a set of reproductive organs with needy, government  dependency,” she continued. “This ad is inappropriate because it is sexualizing  the voting process. This isn’t an ad the average family would want their  daughters to see.”  (Lauren Thompsen – research analyst for the Media Research Center)

…and that’s without the righteous indignation of the Christian fundies.

So… just what is so degrading/demeaning/appalling about this video?  Does it justify the level of outrage being broadcast about it?  A young woman uses a bit of gentle double entendre to kill two birds with one stone – your first sexual encounter and your first time voting are equally important rites of passage.  What the hell is the problem?

Your first time should be with someone you care about…  Shock horror – depraved and twisted lust from the nethermost pit… (sighs)

Your first adult vote should be for someone likely to address your personal concerns….Sounds like common sense to me.

As for the outrage against this add – feels like prissy, meally-mouthed sanctimoniousness to me.

Ouch – and I thought British politics could be bitchily unpleasant. I guess what grips my shit most about Coulter’s comment is the clearly implied link between metal and physical disablement and being as she says ‘a loser’. Well Ann, I reckon that if ‘retard’ isn’t an offensive term then neither is ‘self-righteous neo-con bitch’.

Can’t have it both ways…

CNN Political Ticker

(CNN) — Conservative commentator Ann Coulter stood by her decision to call President Barack Obama the “r word” in a tweet, and questioned whether the word is indeed offensive.

“Maybe [Vice President Joe] Biden should be upset with me calling the president a retard but not an actually disabled person,” she said Friday in an interview on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

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Election 2012 – Romney or Obama? 4

Mitt’s campaign thus far has been all about the politics of success.  The guy running a national company who started it in his garage.  The office worker who wanted to be his own boss, struck out on his own and founded a multi-million dollar concern through sheer grit, determination and bloody-minded refusal to give up.  These people epitomise the Republican understanding of the American Dream – decide what you want to do and get the hell out there and do it.  Don’t ask for help – help yourself.  I’m not wholly opposed to this attitude – in fact I think it’s a damned good one in most circumstances.  Trouble is, this is 2012 – not 1812.  The self-reliant stand on your own two feet thing worked on the frontier. It still does work mostly, but is less likely to in a world where we’re not members of down home frontier communities but citizens of a global economy and hence subject to forces we cannot hope to control.  What do you say to the 55 year old who’s just been laid off after the construction company he worked for went into receivership?  A year later he’s still jobless and the bank’s foreclosed on his house.  He’s too expensive for most of the people hiring and too old (in the eyes of others) to retrain.  It’s people like that, at the mercy of economic forces beyond their control, for whom Romney offers little.

So what about Obama?  The most vitriolic attacks on his policies tend to come from the far-right of the Republican Party and the Tea Party, but as I said in an earlier post those guys are on a different wavelength entirely and best dealt with separately.  That said, their influence has spread way beyond their particular political demographic and can be seen in the pronouncements of some otherwise mainstream political figures.  (For that reason they can’t simply be written off as nutjobs, but I’ll talk about that in a later post).  Thing is, when you look for balanced criticism of Obama’s policies you have a tough job finding any.  When you check out the background to the website/blog it turns out the writer either thinks Obama’s a saint or that he’s the Antichrist in person – there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.  Good old polarised American politics again?

Certainly, Obama has not delivered on his 2008 election policies.  A comparison of recessions and recoveries since 1945 shows that America’s climb out of recession has been much slower than Obama promised (See http://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/one-year-later-another-look-at-obamanomics-vs-reaganomics/)

Even allowing for the fact that the 2007-09 recession can’t be blamed on Obama, surely America’s slow recovery can?  The responses I’m reading again depend on the political persuasion of the writer, but the following point can’t be denied.

Economists Polack and Schott of Yale University point to the high levels of state and local job losses that accompanied the period 2008-11.  Yes, the private sector has played its part – 4.5 million jobs is a pretty good showing (I wish to God they’d pull something like that off over here in the UK).  However, this has been negated by massive public sector job cuts.  Obama’s American Jobs Act of 2011 might have taken the sting out of this process, but it was blocked by a Republican filibuster.  The money to fund it was apparently due to come from partially limiting access to tax deductions for families earning over $250000 a year.  Since that was seen as penalising the successful it was a non-starter.

It would be simplistic to say that Obama has failed because the refusal of the American political class to work together hasn’t allowed him to succeed, but there’s a lot of truth in it.  Whilst Republicans and Democrats misrepresent, stereotype and abuse each other the American economy is unlikely to get much better.  At least, that’s the picture we’re getting over here…

Next up – Foreign policy

Election 2012 – Romney or Obama 3

As promised, a little something on the subject of redistribution, a word which in the Republican lexicon seems to rub shoulders with terms like Marxist-Leninism.  So what’s the big deal here – after all isn’t redistribution something that all governments do in one way or another and not necessarily from the rich to the poor?  Straightforward redistribution could be from the healthy to the sick or from the young to the old. Lesser known ways include the tax exclusion for people who get employer-provided healthcare – money is redistributed from individuals buying insurance to those getting it from the workplace.

So, just what is Mitt’s beef with this issue?   Well, it seems he sees redistribution from the wealthy to the poor, from the multimillionaire to the unemployed, from the healthy to the sick as some form of fundamentally evil big government theft.  This sems to be saying to me that being poor, unemployed and sick really means you’re a bit of a loser and therefore unworthy of sharing in the American dream.  Find fiftty cents pal – phone someone who cares…  What’s with this attitude that a much needed increase in social welfare programs equates to rewarding freeloaders and penalising the successful?  Guys, I love the can-do spirit I see in most Americans I’ve met, their hard work and optimism.  But I wouldn’t want to live there – not with an attitude like that in charge.

No-one (including me) can seriously say that rewarding people who refuse to take responsibility for their lives is an economically viable or morally right action.  We certainly don’t belive in that here in the UK.  If you lose your job here (as a lot of us have recently), you only get your Job Seekers allowance (about $350 a month) if you have an accurate and checkable diary of your attempts to find work.  I’ve no problem with that and certainly don’t see it as rewarding failure.

It’s not just about ensuring there is a safety net (funded by our taxes) to catch us if we fall.  Redistribution also means taxation going on defence.  So if Romney and Ryan want to take on Iran then it will be American tax-payers’ dollars they use to do it.  Of course if Mitt wants to recruit and arm his own private army out of his personal fortune and lead it himself that’s a different story.  Some Iranians might die…laughing.

As a UK citizen I find the Republican link between redistribution and socialism puzzling, if not plain absurd.  If anyone out there feels like explaining it to me feel free. I may not agree with you, but I’ll certainly listen.  One thing I’ve not covered here is the possible origin of Romney’s ideas – but that’s for next time.

Election 2012 – Romney or Obama? 2

An old friend who moved to the States six years ago and now lives in Birmingham Alabama tells me (and I quote), that with an economy breathing out of its ass as badly as theirs is, Romney ought to be able to ‘snowboard the landslide wave’.  Outside the real diehards of the GOP, I wonder how many Republicans really see him doing that?  (I’ll deal with the Tea Party another time – those guys operate on a totally different wavelength).  Obama may not have cleared up the economic mess but it’s important to realise that it wasn’t his party that caused it.  Obama’s been struggling with the aftermath of eight years of Dubya.  Minimal regulation allowed the banks to go crazy and start gambling with other people’s cash.  On top of that, the regulatory agencies who could have helped put a brake on this were starved of the money, manpower and resources necessary to make a difference.  Romney knows all this, but he and his GOP backers seem unable to step beyond the usual adversarial two party politics to come up with a credible solution.  It’s far easier to throw obstructionism, lies and innuendo at Obama (the so-called ‘birther’ issue for example) and hope enough of it sticks.  And I thought UK politics was adversarial…

My Alabaman contact tells me that however much Obama may have screwed up, it’s difficult to see how he could have succeeded.  In fact, no other president since Roosevelt has taken office in economic conditions quite so dire.  FDR got three goes at the Oval Office and a world war to assist in revitalising the economy.  Neither Obama nor his successor will get the former and as for the latter – well, it’s kind of hard to revitalise mounds of irradiated rubble…

Which brings me nicely to foreign policy.  ‘Do what we want or we’ll send in the troops’ no longer really qualifies Mitt.  Neither does giving Israel an unequivocal guarantee of US support or promising to build that Polish based anti-missile ‘shield’.  Russia may indeed be America’s top geo-political rival as Romney recently asserted, but his stance on Russia is way too strident for us Euros to feel anything other than nervous about it.  ‘Everything we try and do globally they try and oppose’ says Mitt, citing Russian ‘obstructionism’ on the Iranian nuclear program and the Syrian Civil War.  Hmm – the logistic support provided by Moscow for the allied intervention in Afghanistan seems, amongst other things, to have slipped his mind.

The world has too many problems for America to adopt a confrontational foreign policy – unless of course it has no choice.  Obama seems to understand the need for dialogue better than Romney and while I don’t doubt that he’ll use force if he has to it is far more likely to be as a last resort.  In addition, Obabma knows that America no longer has the resources to play world policeman on its own.  China and Russia possess the geopolitical connections to do things America cannot – dialogue with them is essential if the world is to get through the next century or so in one piece.

Next up – Redistribution – is it really a dirty word?