Category Archives: Elections 2012

2012: The Year Republicans Lost their Alternative Universe

Guns courage

The big political news story of 2012 was not that Obama won the presidential election or that the Republicans lost. That was fairly predictable.

Think about, if you were a strong Republican contender for the highest office of the U.S. would you rather run in 2012 against Obama and inherit a weak economy or would you wait it out until 2016 when you were facing Joe Biden? And even if Hillary had the energy to run, Americans will be too tired of eight years of a Democratic White House to vote her into office.

It’s a no-brainer:  strong contenders sit this one out. So who did we get? We go the Republican psychos Santorum and Gingrich and the unelectable Mitt Romney. Unelectable? Come on, did you ever really think that Americans would elect an elitist millionaire Mormon candidate who pays less than 14% income tax when he’s been transparent about, makes $20 million a year without having a job, hides his wealth in offshore tax havens, and has taken every position imaginable on each and every issue at some point in the last 10 years.

No. Romney’s loss was not newsworthy. What was news worthy was that the GOP’s alternative universe – the one brought to you courtesy of Fox News with the support of the mainstream media insistence on giving equal weight to each side’s viewpoint no matter how absurd – finally unraveled.

So if it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone when Romney lost, then why was Romney so “shell shocked” at his defeat?

Why was it that Republicans so vehemently attacked Nate Silver (including calling him too effeminate) who was incredibly successful in 2008? I thought it was the Democrats who hated success and merit based praise?

But in the GOP alternative universe, modern science must never trump the GOP worldview on taxes, the economy, healthcare, Climate Change, marriage equality, marijuana, immigration, or even statistics.

And as Paul Krugman has described,

. . . the modern G.O.P.’s attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence.

The most obvious example other than evolution is man-made climate change. As the evidence for a warming planet becomes ever stronger — and ever scarier — the G.O.P. has buried deeper into denial, into assertions that the whole thing is a hoax concocted by a vast conspiracy of scientists. And this denial has been accompanied by frantic efforts to silence and punish anyone reporting the inconvenient facts.

The GOP’s insularity has led them to such an isolated place that even the numbers guy Mitt was clueless of his own loss. The fact that most Americans are either living in the same isolated place is the biggest tragedy in our modern politics. We are no longer able to honestly and scientifically address the real issues that face our nation in any constructive and effective manner.

Nevertheless, the results of the elections not only validated science as practiced by little Nate Silver, they also showed that Americans were less and less susceptible to the right-wing information bubble. Same-sex marriage swept every ballot it was on as did Marijuana, and Americans didn’t buy the GOP’s argument on taxes. With Hurricane Sandy, Americans started to question the logic of digging your head in the sand on Climate Change. And everyone who bet big on Romney: Grover Norquist, Sheldon Adelson, the NRA, and even Benyamin Netanyahu all have lost big.

The jury is still out on Netanyahu – who spit in the face of comity and very publicly campaigned against the sitting President of the United States – as to whether he will pay a political price. And it appears that he has already.

So while it now seems that the GOP’s fictional tale of taxes, climate change and being in the moral majority is coming to an end, it also looks like the other shoe — guns — is also about to drop.

It’s hard to make the argument to the American people that nothing can or should be done when our kids are slaughtered in the schools when we are so quick to react to a single failed shoe bomber or in how we regulate cough medicine stronger than guns, but refuse to react after 62 mass shootings during the last 30 years with seven alone this year.

Americans may have had enough, and no matter how the GOP or the NRA want to spin it (the NRA has just called for armed guards at all schools), their days are numbered. As Timothy Egon explains:

When the Berlin Wall fell 23 years ago, what started with a couple of hammer swings against an irrational barrier quickly became an irresistible force. At such moments in history, the impossible is self-evident.

So it is in the first cracks in the two most formidable obstacles to progress on guns and taxes. Every valid poll shows that a majority of Americans favor bans on high-capacity ammunition clips and military-style assault weapons. A huge majority — 74 percent in a recent Washington Post/ABC News survey — also say it is “acceptable” to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year. Yet the will of the people has been consistently thwarted. Why? Because, for a representative democracy, we’ve ceded an inordinate amount of power to a pair of unelected lobbies.

By threat and force, the gun and anti-tax extremists have been able to stop every sensible plea for reform. And by sensible, I mean a tax increase that is still less than the one Bill Clinton put through to great prosperity, and gun restrictions favored by presidents like Ronald Reagan.

Bullying is the favorite tactic of these political thugs in K Street suits, but as the last week has shown, they are also cowards. Wayne LaPierre of the N.R.A. was quick to rush to the airwaves a few weeks ago after a pro football player shot his girlfriend and himself.

“The American public is disgusted,” he said. “The American public has had their fill of what happened last night.” The violence? No. He was condemning the sportscaster Bob Costas for daring to suggest that we have a conversation about what it means to live and die in the most armed society in history.

If only, he said, gun victims had weapons of their own. Sadly, Nancy Lanza was armed to the teeth, but it couldn’t save her from her own son. The Greek tragedy of Ms. Lanza’s supplying the weapon for her murder proved once again what all the empirical evidence shows: that if you have a gun at home it’s most likely to be used on a family member or someone you know.

The N.R.A. went dark in the week after the school massacre not out of some respect for the dead children, but because it could not make, with a straight face, the absurd argument that if only little kids had been armed they could have saved themselves.

It was left to the politicians owned by the gun lobby to have us view the carnage as the price of freedom. “There’s nothing you’re going to do to prevent evil from occurring,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican of North Carolina.

So the first things to go in the crumbling of these two special-interest titans are their core arguments. Newtown is wretched proof of the utter vacuity of the gun lobby’s excuses, but every comparison to other industrial nations makes the case as well.

So 2012 may go down in the history books as the year the GOP lost more than an election: they lost taxes, moral values, climate change, statistics, and even guns. Good riddance!

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Filed under Elections 2012, Essays, Obama 44, We The People

The Vicious Cycle of American Meritocracy

It’s interesting that at a time when American corporations and the wealthiest in the country are being taxed at rates that are lower than at any other time during the last 100 years, one of the major political parties is trying to convince Americans that if we do not lower taxes even further on these players, then they will cease to do us the honor of creating the wealth that our nation desperately needs. Now despite that this is simply factual nonsense (during the largest periods of growth during the last century corporations and wealthy citizens, including Mr. Romney Sr., co-existed with a much higher tax burden), this makes no psychological sense. The drive to make money and to succeed, even at the top, is not that tax sensitive. Our wealthiest citizens are not going to suddenly elect poverty because they have to pay the taxes of their fathers. As mentioned, higher taxes during the 1950 and 60s and during Reagan and Clinton didn’t stop the rich Americans from becoming rich.

But one of the biggest problems our nation faces is a psychological disorder, a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy, where people are so convinced that their success and/or failure is due to their own merit, that they are completely disconnected from reality. This inevitably leads to a continuous cycle of nepotism, where those who merit success are limited to those who already belong to the club of the elite, while those who do not belong repeatedly fail, and said failure denies them the merit to achieve success.

In other words, where a society so values success and almost blindly believes that success is solely attributed to one’s own merit, anyone who is successful or unsuccessful is presumed to deserve their station in society, and society is completely and unquestionable content with and accepting of the consequences of having people who succeed disproportionately and those who fail miserably. So for example, we are fully capable of accepting that a corporation can outsource (don’t say “offshore”) jobs and slash employee salaries while increasing executive pay to amounts that simply do not coincide in any shape or form with the reality of the executive’s performance. Yet this disconnect is disregarded, ignored. The CEO achieved the American dream because he [must have] worked harder than all those salaried employees. Continue reading

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The Myth of Personality: Some of my Best friends are Corporations

Mitt Romney has taken a lot of slack for his “I have some friends who are Nascar team owners” comment but much less pain for his even sillier “Corporations are people” remark. All we needed him to say was “Some of my best friends are corporations” to paint the perfect picture of his world of make-believe.

After the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court has reinforced the notion that corporations enjoy certain “human” protections under the law, specifically those related to the First Amendment right to free expression. In constitutional and practical terms that translates to mean that corporations have the unbridled right to express their political opinions by providing cash to politicians, political parties and political interest groups that, of course, any human – including Mr. 14% — could only dream of forking out.

But the entire issue of how campaigns can be financed is besides the point (though, as of the time of this post apparently Romney’s SuperPAC has raised +$100 million to Obama’s $9million). Mr. Romney was trying to say something – I can only imagine – about corporations, capitalism and the freedom from regulation that corporations must enjoy in a free society. So, if corporations are people, then they too should be free. That a corporation is in fact a person and should not be regulated is absurd. A guy who earned both a Harvard MBA and JD should know this.

As a matter of fact, a corporation is not the product of the free market, but of government intervention and regulation. Yes, that’s correct: corporations only exist because of convoluted state action and regulation that allow them to incorporate. Government is the mother of all corporations and regulation their father. Continue reading

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Filed under Elections 2012, Essays