Archive for January 13, 2012
Bain: The Great Equalizer
I just finished watching the thirty minute smear piece against Mitt Romney produced by Newt Gingrich’s SuperPAC. Don’t lecture me about how this isn’t Newt’s SuperPAC. We all know better and I’ll focus more on this “joke” later in the article. The glorified campaign ad “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” is fairly well destroyed by a fact check done by the Washington Post. Still, the film leaves me with two conclusions. First, Mitt Romney was a very successful leader of a company. Mitt Romney was hardly a job creator. So henceforth in the campaign instead of saying he created thousands of jobs, Mitt ought to simply say he ran a very successful enterprise and can bring that successful executive leadership to our country. Don’t mention any other companies like Staples which can be countered with examples like Ampad. Simply stick to Bain — “I ran Bain and we did damn well!”
The second conclusion I came to was that Bain, or perhaps capitalism itself, is the great equalizer. All but one of the “common folk” interviewed in the smear job was white. “When you’ve only got two gifts for your kids [at Christmas] that hurts,” says one woman who lost her job supposedly because of Bain. Mmm, how many blacks can identify with that? I’d guess a helluva lot. Another woman talked about her ten kids, two of whom are still minors who need financially stable parents. I’ve read too many conservatives tell black women in the same bind “keep your thighs together and maybe you wouldn’t have so many kids, welfare queen.” Depending on your perspective, the tragedy or the beauty of full-blown capitalism is it knows no racial or ethnic boundaries. All capitalism knows is winners and losers, the powerful and the powerless. The fact is, white or black, if you don’t sit in the corner office, you’re vulnerable. Survival of the company and share holder value is paramount. I can’t help but believe that some, not all, but some of the folks in “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” thought their whiteness insulated them and protected their comfy middle class existence. It made the rude awakening of their actual corporate insignificance all the more shocking.
Our pastors tell us we are all equal before the Lord. When it comes to capitalism run amok, we in the 99% are all equal too and none of us are safe. That’s the real lesson behind the “King of Bain” campaign film. Yet, in the words of Romney, I’ll bet you “a thousand bucks” that these folks, despite what they’ve been through, given the choice between Mitt and Barack will pull the lever for Romney. What’s the matter with Kansas indeed.
The Big SuperPAC Joke
Four years ago, comedian Stephen Colbert tried to get on the presidential ballot in South Carolina and failed. Well he’s at it again this year but an intervening event has added an extra sharpness to his stunt, namely the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. For the past few months, Colbert has been collecting money into his own SuperPAC. This Thursday night, before announcing an exploratory committee into running for “President of the United States of South Carolina”, Colbert brought on his attorney to discuss what to do with his PAC. Since the law states that you cannot fund a campaign out of your own PAC, Colbert had to find someone else to run his. He chose … Jon Stewart. For the remainder of the sketch on The Colbert Report, Stephen and Jon discussed how they would not have any communication between them regarding the conduct of this PAC as law dictates.
Behind all the silliness was a great primer on the total BS of campaign funding rules as perverted by the Citizens United decision. We all know that the folks who launched the devastating ad campaign against Newt Gingrich in Iowa with no funding limits, were associates of Mitt Romney. Similarly we know that the folks who launched “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” are cronies of Gingrich. Both claim to be independent SuperPACS. We know it ‘s a lie. If we don’t cut through the noise, weigh the facts carefully and vote our conscience in November; if we let these SuperPAC ad campaigns overly influence us, then the big SuperPAC joke will be on us.
Killing Scientists, Really?
This week an Iranian scientist was murdered on his way to work. He had been working on Iran’s nuclear program. He was the fourth scientist to be killed in recent times. The last time I looked, scientists were not soldiers. They are not terrorists. They are not criminals. They are gainfully employed working in what is purported to be a peaceful pursuit of nuclear energy capability. No one has claimed responsibility for this murder. The leading suspects are the United States’ CIA and Israel’s Mossad. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has gone on record advocating these murders. All I can say is I sincerely hope the United States has nothing to do with this.
If scientists need to be killed to stop nuclear proliferation, then I suppose Einstein and Oppenheimer should have been killed long ago.
Pissing on the Enemy
Apparently four United States Marines didn’t get the memo about Abu Ghraib. Four of them are seen in a video urinating on dead members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has condemned the behavior. But this gets me to thinking anew about why we need a draft. First, of course, with a draft the war in Afghanistan would be over by now because more parents of dead soldiers and soldiers at risk would be demanding an end to it. However I think it goes further than that. Three types of people volunteer to go to war:
- True patriots
- Folks who for whatever reason are not making it in American civilian society
- Sociopaths and thrill-seekers with blood-lust
I would hope the military is fairly good at screening out the third category but I’m not so sure. I’m damn sure they don’t spend much time screening out the second category. With a draft untainted by corruption the percent of folks in the military who should not be there should reflect the same types of folks in society in general. In other words, as a gross mathematical example, if 30% of Americans are true patriots then a fair draft will pull in about 30% patriots. With a volunteer army you don’t get that representative sampling that a draft encourages. I submit with a volunteer army you get more societal rejects and psychos.
Think about it. With Osama bin Laden dead, and the war in Afghanistan pretty much a waste of time and money, who would volunteer to go there now? You would either have to be blindly patriotic or have some less than ideal agenda. I know it is sacrilege to speak ill of our military, of our brave young men and women. But there is nothing brave about pissing on your enemy’s corpse. We should never forget the lessons of Abu Ghraib. War is dirty and a cross-section of the folks we are sending to fight it are not particularly clean either.