Yesterday’s monumental wins by Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch are still being celebrated today by the right, and bitterly bemoaned by the left. As the left put their faith in exit polls shared by media sources MSNBC and others, the races looked like they would be fairly close. Despite the president’s reluctance to show his support for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (until an 11th hour tweet), maybe it was somehow possible Barrett still had a good chance to keep the race close. As it turns out, the race was not really that close at all, and for all their spending, democrats were left with a big bag of nothing, going 0-2 in the recall races.
As an analytical guy, I think that there are some very strong, very significant, takeaways from this special recall election.
- The Wisconsin voters did not buy the rhetoric that having public employees pay a fraction of their own insurance costs would somehow put them into the poor house. The voters, who typically pay more for their own insurance, and had to then pay a lion’s share of public sector employees’ costs had enough. After the past few years of burgeoning governments, and massive spending by both state and federal governments, voters let their votes speak for them: enough is enough. The left would be careful not to neglect the message that progressive policies, and its empty rhetoric, is now at an all-time nadir.
- Despite media sources’ best efforts to sell the president as a friendly every man, and someone who’s infinitely more capable than his administration and his track record shows, he has still only has lukewarm support among some big names, even on the left. The biggest story of this election is the revelation that Bill Clinton, patron saint of democrats, still has a distaste for Obama. In the last presidential election, against Hilary, a shocked Bill Clinton revealed that the Obama campaign “played the race card on me…and they planned to do it all along.” Is it the result of two massive cults of personality, butting heads? The result of the greatest contemporary democratic president (Clinton) and the man who’s billed as the greatest democratic president (Obama)?
- We also learned that state democrats and other Barrett supporters were angry at the Democratic National Committee for not spending any funds against Walker and Kleefisch, but that the DNC helped in other ways. I wonder if the “extensive resources” mentioned in the Kos article is in any way tied to the out-of-state buses taking people to polling places? Could this be a result of the national DNC attempting to save and pool money for the lackluster Obama campaign throughout this summer and fall? Might the national elections this fall mirror these attempts to unfairly sway elections, but on a much, much larger scale?
- Lastly, the distinct lack of enthusiasm on the left may continue to spread as college graduates struggle to find jobs where there are none, and high school students, who will generally do odds jobs or other minimum wage work, see those jobs evaporate as over-qualified adults take the positions. The distinct lack of job creation, coupled with an influx of new workers, added to a stagnant economy overall, does not bode well for Obama’s re-election hopes. As he admitted himself, if he could not turn around the economy, he would be a one-term president.
So, our dear leader warns us that once again, those crazy Republicans want to drive this country into the ground – by stealing money from everyone of us, who are struggling to break even, and then generously give it to people that hardly need it (their filthy rich buddies – the 1%). He neglects to mention that the fact so many of us are struggling to break even may have something to do with his still-failing economic policies – but that is ok, since, as he has promised us for three years now, happy days are just ahead (thanks to him). The GOP just wants to cut and cut, like a mad lumberjack in a forest, not caring what they strike, so long as the ax connects, the president would have us believe. Obama even went so far as to claim Republicans’ mentality as being “…driven by our ideological vision about how government should be” and he went even further, claiming the Republicans were sticking with the same types of economic decisions that drove the country into the Great Depression.
The Senate, having not given the country a budget in the past three years, has not deterred Republicans from trying their hands at writing one in the House, but Paul Ryan’s most recent effort was met with the usual scatterbrained excuses and rhetoric. Obama tells us children will starve and Medicare patients will be without their medicines (never mind his own cutting of $528 billion from the Medicare roles, via Obamacare), and finally, that he is not the extreme progressive that he is painted. Indeed, he even went so far as to invoke the names of two outstanding Republicans to compare himself to – Abraham Lincoln (yes, again) and Ronald Reagan. By talking of the Reagan-era, Obama attempted to point out how far right the GOP has moved, and claims Reagan could not win a primary now. For their parts, Republican leaders took the most natural response: they snickered and asked what Obama’s policies would do to help the country. After stumbling, and realizing how much his words were parsed these days, he sauntered off.
I find it odd, that the man who thought it would be brilliant to sign into law, legislation that no one had read, and who continues to defend his administration’s $535 million boondoggle loan to a solar company that “needed” talking robots, would be criticizing anybody’s plans. The president who has created more debt and higher deficits than any other president in history – wants to criticize others’ efforts to try to fix the mess? On the administration’s face, it has been do-little as a matter of course. When it has actually done anything, it seems to be with negative outcomes, or so completely, horribly wrong, one has to wonder if anyone is awake at the wheel. In Iran, with the promising “Green Revolution”, he did nothing as people were beaten in the streets – now he wants to punish some of the same people with crippling sanctions. The president wanted to help Libyan rebels – but violated the War Powers Act to do so. He wanted to help and support the Egyptian uprising – but he stalled for so long, now it appears the Muslim Brotherhood is licking its lips at a presidential election run. In Syria now, where civilians are being fired on, and bombed by the military? The president decides it is better to let the region solve that problem on its own. Our ally in the region, Israel recently had intelligence on their own allies leaked as well. Former Ambassador John Bolton points his finger at the administration…
Obama’s record is so anemic and is full of massive failures. He cannot kowtow to his base of environmentalists, without having the rest of America howling about oil prices. He cannot stretch the military much further than he already has. And he cannot do anything but tear down others, to even make it seem as though he has accomplished anything (I call that “maximizing by minimizing”). At this point, I would rather have a coin in the Oval Office – after all, you can count on it to make a right decision 1/2 of the time.
The man came from the east, and rode aboard a midnight black steed, with angry fire in its eyes. The steed seemed reluctant to allow anyone but its rider to even get close to it. The mount whinnied uneasily, and lived for moments it could swoop in and, with its rider cause confusion and destruction. Once its rider saddled up, they were unstoppable. Always riding all-out, and never looking back, they rode without care nor conscience.
One of the most infamous raids, that so many remember, came one day in the 90s, in the middle of the country. Mitt-ila with his steed, Bain, came to the steel mill, licking his lips, and casing everything that he would soon own and be able to plunder and turn asunder. Sparks flew from the horse’s hooves as they rode onto the grounds. The horse and its master began the blood-letting – the guild members, their pay, the equipment – they began laying waste to everything in sight…Soon, their nefarious plans were complete, and the tiny factory was no more.
What is this? This is the Newt-would-approve-if-he-read-it-version of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. This is the, politically-expedient version of what happened in Kansas City. Mitt of course, the ardent anti-capitalist and destroyer of all that he touched, only wanted the companies Bain invested in for their liquidity values, right? I mean, why would anyone invest in a company that they may be able to resurrect, and restore to profitability (and make far more money, than just relying on the liquidity value)? Once a company is seen to have its best days behind it, the person who attributes this “un-profitable operating” designation could never have any ways of turning it around – its only value is in plundering anything and everything that still has any value. Right? So it is raid and plunder away.
Except – that is not always the way that business happens. I would venture to guess it is seldom that a capital company step in and buys a company solely for its liquid assets, before it has declared bankruptcy, when the investing company can buy it for a song. That seems like paying extra for the “privilege” of going through bankruptcy proceedings and haggling with creditors. With the intention of retrofitting and upgrading the facilities at Kansas City located “GST Steel”, Bain made investments and attempted to turn the troubled steelmaker around. After investments of $100 million were sunk into the plant, due to myriad mismanagement issues, tons of cheap Chinese-made steel (made and sold at a loss, to gain market share), and the debt-load created to save the plant, it still had to be closed. 750 people lost their jobs as a result.
It should be mentioned, but seldom seems to be, that the Chinese steel is probably more to blame for GST’s failure than any other factors, including: Bain Capital’s “raiding”, more competitive American steel foundries, and obsolescing equipment. Add to that, some of the most misguided management that I have ever read about (like hiring managers for this steel plant, that had previously worked in retail for Wal-Mart), and it appears that the factory was always doomed. Some 40+ other American steel companies went under in the same time GST was slowly rusting away.
My main issues with the attack of Romney (and attacks of him, under the guise of attacks of Bain) are the fact that supposed conservative and right-wing candidates are making the majority of them. The fact that some are using Romney’s time at Bain as a way to compare him to Bernie Madoff, and his criminal Ponzi scheme (that was James Clyburn), is also disheartening. As a matter of fact, Mitt wasn’t even with Bain at the time GST finally gasped and was shuttered. Now it’s like all hands on deck for a thrashing of the mechanism that built this country, and gave so many people the lives we enjoy.
The way that I see it, if a person is going to attack a function of capitalism, and stand behind their point, whether it is legitimate or not, it would also mean that the same arbitrary condemnation could apply to any function of capitalism. You don’t like paying some of your bills – then don’t, because you think it’s “unfair.” You don’t like having to pay a manufacturers’ makeup? Well, don’t pay it then – you’ve deemed it “unfair” too. When we slip into a mindset of the left, where, this is fair, that is unfair, this group over here has more than you (and you really deserve it more than they do), and that some big, bad, government boogie-man is piling on with those filthy rich fat cats, it is easy to find yourself getting angry. The trick is to channel that anger and frustration – almost like using that destructive feeling for something…Creative.
Way back during the last presidential election season, the country was sold an idealistic, Utopian vision. It would usher in a new age, where the government would be truly responsible to the people, and that same government would be seen as the most open and transparent than any we have ever seen before. The new incoming government would end bureaucratic language and simply legislation to make it understandable and easily understood by the average American. If we only had a crystal ball, eh?
The promise of transparency was that legislation and administration policies would have no hidden agendas, little “fine print”, and would be straightforward. With the induction of President Obama to the Oval Office, both Robert Gibbs and Jay Carney have shown the transparency to be little more than a talking point. It has clearly fallen by the wayside as it appears Washington and its political animals are back to business as usual. Both Gibbs and Carney have had their shares of contentious moments with the White House Press Corps, trading barbs infrequently with Ed Rollins, Major Garrett, and Jake Tapper – who, to their credit, did not allow the Press Secretaries much wiggle room.
The reality of the transparency promise seems to fall far short of the rhetoric, however. The ongoing Obamacare fiasco, passed with a promise of “We have to pass it to see what is in it”, by a smiling, seemingly bemused, Nancy Pelosi is one of the sorest examples of this presidency’s opaque-transparency. After some 1,400 waivers to various groups and even states (benefiting over three million people), the administration finally said that no more waivers were to be granted. If you do not remember hearing this – it is little wonder, as the administration released that information on a Friday. While the waiver-list is easily accessible online, it does seem to be top-heavy with groups and business owners who are cozy with the administration. Is this honest? Is this how the legislative process is supposed to operate? I suppose if one looks past the flagrant waivers, and the irresponsible method the bill flew through Congress, one could smile and try to call it honest. I say the thing stinks to high heaven.
Another measure of transparency in my mind, is the personnel, and types of personnel that the administration has seen fit to employ to work on policy issues. It appears to be a cavalcade of incompetence, special interest leaders, and yes-men. An example is the avowed communist, Van Jones. With the minimal vetting the press did before he joined the administration, it is little wonder that he seemed so extreme once people did start digging into his background. When news of the former “Green Czar’s” ties to a Marxist group and a 9/11 truth group (911Truth.org), he was forced to resign, bemoaning the “smear campaign” and “lies and distortion” used against him. If the allegations were untrue, why hasn’t he sued for slander or libel, or tried to refute them?
Finally, the most appalling lack of transparency (and ultimately, a massive cover-up) is the one that threatens to embroil the entire Department of Justice. “Operation Fast & Furious” was based on an awful plan to provide guns, bought with taxpayer money, to Mexican cartel members. Someone thought this was a simply brilliant idea. Run out of the Phoenix office of the ATF Bureau, its paper trail seems to easily run clear back to Washington D.C., and it has plenty of people involved. Both Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder are listed as recipients of emails detailing the extent and development of the program. Darrell Issa, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, has sought to obtain documents and emails regarding the “Fast & Furious Program”. What he was sent consisted of heavily redacted pages of solid black. Transparency, indeed.