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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,644

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Republicans want a "Grand Bargain"? OK, here it is

The overwhelming majority of Americans will continue to tolerate a tiny minority of self entitled elites hoarding vast sums of obscene personal wealth in return for an adaquate fully functioning economic safety net for the rest of us. Without that minimum guarentee, the Social Contract is Null and Void. Class warfare will no longer be waged exclusively on battlefields of the super wealthy's choosing.

Peace and stability comes with a price, and that is the price. Deal or No Deal?

New Poverty Window Opens: 55 to 67

Social Security and Medicare were instituted to combat the damning scourge of Senior poverty in America. Today most Americans may be living longer, but becoming poor younger. Our economy has changed since the 1960’s and that change has not been kind to the Middle Class, especially to workers over 50. Increasingly they are targeted as a cost cutting opportunity by company managers seeking to fatten their bottom lines. Once people in their 50’s and early 60’s could count on achieving their highest incomes in those years that directly preceded retirement Not any longer, now their larger paychecks make them the prey of corporate knives.

When layoffs happen in that age group, future job prospects are uncertain at best. One thing though is certain, odds are that any employment they might still secure will be at substantially less pay and with fewer, if any benefits. That is the essential backdrop to the current negotiations about the so called fiscal cliff. The wave of new poverty now hitting Americans over 55 is, to a large extent still happening below the radar. Older Americans who had been preparing for their pending retirement have had to revise their plans radically. Many now stay afloat in a manner reminiscent of a middle class lifestyle only by tapping into resources now that were meant to sustain them in later years.

Gone are the days of corporate pensions and gold watches gratefully given for decades of loyal service. Millions of Americans are now limping toward the finish line of their working careers, trying to hold on until programs like Social Security and Medicare finally kick in to give them a life sustaining boost. What is the response out of Washington to the emergence of this new window of Senior poverty? A drive to cut back “entitlement” spending is now gathering momentum. One of the proposals getting most of the buzz, especially in Republican circles, is to raise the eligibility age for Medicare by two years to 67. With their incomes plunging and their personal resources drained, how will many Americans survive being forced to forgo the availability of affordable health care for an additional two years? The answer is some won’t.

How much money will the federal budget save by denying Medicare to Americans until they reach 67. Most say on the order of 15 Billion a year, or 150 Billion over a decade. Let’s put that into perspective. By allowing the Bush Tax cuts to fully expire, as originally intended, simply on incomes ABOVE $250,000 a year, nearly a trillion dollars in new revenue will enter federal coffers over the next decade. But Republicans are balking. Not only would they rather raise that money by closing unidentified tax “loopholes” (likely including charity deductions and tax write offs for health care costs), they want that figure cut back to 800 billion instead, so the rich can pocket the 200 billion dollar difference. The Republicans prefer all Americans be forced to wait two more years to qualify for Medicare so that the wealthiest 2% of Americans won’t need to pay the full Bill Clinton era tax rates on their incomes above $250,000.

Here is another way of viewing our budget choices, credit to this Reuters article:

Exclusive: U.S. sees lifetime cost of F-35 fighter at $1.45 trillion
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON | Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:28am EDT

’The U.S. government now projects that the total cost to develop, buy and operate the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be $1.45 trillion over the next 50-plus years, according to a Pentagon document obtained by Reuters.

The Pentagon's latest, staggering estimate of the lifetime cost of the F-35 -- its most expensive weapons program -- is up from about $1 trillion a year ago, and includes inflation…

The new cost estimate reflects the Pentagon's proposal to postpone orders for 179 planes for five years, a move that U.S. official say will save $15.1 billion through 2017, and should avert costly retrofits if further problems arise during testing of the new fighter, which is only about 20 percent complete.

The Pentagon still plans to buy 2,443 of the new radar-evading, supersonic warplanes, plus 14 development aircraft, in the coming decades, although Air Force Secretary Michael Donley last week warned that further technical problems or cost increases could eat away at those numbers.”

Note the timely coincidence. The Pentagon expects to save $15.1 Billion through 2017 by postponing orders for 170 of those planes. That’s what Republicans want to cut Medicare by annually.

Life is full of choices. We pay for a military in the belief that it will protect our life and liberty. We pay for health care for essentially the same reason. Our Air Force is already dominant in the world, how many F-35’s do we need when they compete in cost with Medicare?

Our neighbors to the north just faced a similar decision making process and Canada seems to have thought better of buying a fleet of F-35’s given its current price tag:

Federal government cancels F-35 fighter purchase: source
Michael Den Tandt
Published: December 6, 2012, 1:46 pm

“Faced with the imminent release of an audit by accountants KPMG that will push the total projected life-cycle costs of the aircraft above $30 billion, the Harper Conservatives have decided to scrap the controversial sole-source program and go back to the drawing board, a source familiar with the decision said. This occurred after Chief of the Defence Staff Thomas Lawson, while en route overseas, was called back urgently to appear before members of the cabinet, the source said.

The decision was to go before the cabinet planning and priorities committee Friday morning but the outcome is not in doubt, the source said.”

Of course we wouldn’t be facing decisions like this today if the last Bush Administration had done what American Presidents have always done before to pay for the guns of war when major armed conflicts emerge; raise the revenue to pay for them. If Republicans don’t like forcing the wealthy to pay their fair share so that Medicare remains available at age 65 for Americans who need it, there is a ready alternative. Tell them they are just picking up their share of the cost for George W. Bush invading Iraq.

Democrats lost the Public Option and got drubbed in 2010

If Democrats compromise Medicare or Social Security now they wil lose in 2014 also When the most important advance in social welfare legislation since Medicare was handed off to the private Insurance industry virtually exclusively to monopolize, it was like a gut punch to progressive forces. An energized movement that had swept back to back elections in 2006 and 2008 for the Democratic Party spontaneously deflated.

I am not focusing on policy per se right now, not on the argument over what was and was not possible to actually achieve regarding health care, just on the predictable outcome that happens when hopes and dreams are dashed. Politics comes down to people, especially on the Democratic side of the equation.

Democrats by and large are not as self centered as are the elites that fund the Republican Party. We actually do embrace the concept of shared sacrifice, we expect to have to give as individuals to help keep our nation great. But we also believe that what makes our nation great is a society that does not demand that citizens give up what they literally can not afford to lose. We do not believe Americans should be forced into "sacrifices" that jeopardize their health and physical well being, to the point of risking their very lives. Not while there is great, even obscene, wealth awash in confined sectors of this nation we don't

Any betrayal of that core sense of fairness, which underlies the loyalty that motivates millions of liberals and progressives to work their asses off for Democratic candidates for office and to donate hard earned dollars to Democratic campaigns, will cripple the Democratic Party in the next mid-term elections. It is really that predictable and unavoidable a dynamic that Democrats would do well to ponder now during negotiations with the Republicans over the so-called Fiscal cliff".

Raising the age of Medicare eligibility is the very last option that the core Democratic base would consider in regards to cutting our deficits. To put it in blunter terms, if one dime of the Bush tax cuts for the rich gets preserved as the result of current negotiations, if the top tax rate on the wealthiest Americans does not rise all of the way back to Clinton Administration levels, or if the threshold for those cuts is raised above the $250,000 a year income level, that will mean more food and health care denied to some of the neediest in our nation. Democratic voters will revolt if that happens, just like what happened in 2010.

It will happen at a level deeper than any appeal to reason can touch. People can be talked into continuing a relationship for pragmatic reasons after experiencing personal betrayal, but they can't be "reasoned into" continuing it with the same passion and devotion. In a post "Citizens United" political universe, Democrats literally can't afford that type of drop off in voter base enthusiasm.

Republicans argue that even if the rich resume paying the tax rates they paid in the 1990's, the added revenue won't be nearly enough to right our fiscal ship. All the more reason to demand that the wealthy pay those rates now in full AND close tax loopholes closed that predominantly benefit the upper class - who collectively have flourished while the rest of the nation has suffered. Instead Republicans perversely argue that the rich are the ones who should be spared greater so-called sacrifices.

Millions of Americans are today living in part off of savings they once earmarked for their retirement. Americans who lose well paying jobs after they turn 50 can't replace them. Increasingly those approaching retirement age are limping toward that finish line, just trying to hold on until they can qualify for Social Security and Medicare. Pushing Medicare eligibility back two years would be the functional equivalent of a death sentence to tens of thousands of Americans. That is not a Democratic value, and voters know when their interests are being sold out.

Better moderates like Crist become Democrats than launch a "Third Way" Party

The Republican Party has moved so far right that something has got to give, moderates can no longer continue to support it. Either they will move into the Democratic Party gravitational field or I predict there will be a major launching of a new Centrist political party within the next eight years.

Think how close that has come already since Perot ran the first time, and then Jesse Ventura got elected Governor. Think Colin Powell and Mayor Bloomberg. Think Arnie out on the West Coast and Lincoln Chaffee in the East. On our side look at Ben Nelson, and Evan Bayh and how close they might be to bolting. Remember how Lieberman won his last election.

I do not welcome new Democrats in name only into our Party, pure opportunists in other words, because they are a Trojan horse at best. But I prefer that sane independent oriented thoughtful moderates defecting from the Republican fold affiliate with Democrats than have a new powerful centrist movement emerge in American politics right now. When conscientious moderates leave the Republican Party, they tend to begin evolving toward increasingly progressive positions.

In facing the “Fiscal Cliff”, what exactly does “Shared Sacrifice” mean?

I know the obvious definition, which goes something like; “to get our economic house in order, everyone has to share the burden”. OK, fine, so we share the burden. But what does that really mean? Are Americans being asked to share “the burden” equally? And just what constitutes a burden anyway? A light backpack is hardly burdensome to a healthy adult hiker, but most four year olds couldn’t handle carrying it for long. Cut the caloric intake of an overweight individual and most would call it dieting. Cut the caloric intake of someone severely malnourished and starvation becomes the more accurate term. But hey, both individuals are giving up something. That is what passes for “shared sacrifice” in Washington lately, at least in Republican circles.

All Americans are supposed to ante up “some skin in the game.” of fighting our budget deficits. Whether that is through liposuction or through amputation is of secondary concern. What matters now is making “the numbers add up”. So long as each side “gives up something” it’s supposed to be “fair”. Split the baby down the middle. Isn’t that what compromise is all about?

The Republican position during the fiscal cliff negotiations is not just totally discredited (the entire 2012 election campaign centered on the question of “fair taxes” and Republicans came up short), it is also morally obscene. The added pain that they now propose fall most heavily on many of our nations most vulnerable citizens was entirely of their own doing

The George W. Bush tax cuts were designed originally to be temporary. Bush campaigned in 2000 arguing that the government was hoarding way too large a surplus, and that much of it should be given back to tax payers in the form of a temporary tax cut. Polling at the time showed most Americans disagreed with Bush’s tax proposal. It was viewed even then as a giveaway to the rich and a reckless potential budget buster. Americans preferred that more of the surplus That Bush inherited from Clinton be used to shore up social security than what Bush chose to allott for that purpose

Though he ultimately won the presidency with a controversial “assist” from the Supreme Court, no one disputes that George Bush lost the popular vote in the 2000 election to Al Gore. Bush was not Americans first choice for President. The Bush tax cuts only became law because his running mate Dick Cheney was in place to cast a tie breaking vote in the Senate to make them into law.

The irony here is hard to miss. In 2000 Polls showed that Americans opposed Bush’s tax plans, Al Gore won more votes for President that George Bush did, yet Bush forced his tax plan through a Senate that was bitterly divided on partisan lines. That is how Republicans traditionally define “compromise” Fast forward to 2012. President Obama campaigned for reelection by strenuously arguing that the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans should be allowed to expire, as originally intended, on all income over $250,000. Polls show that the American people agree with the President’s position on this issue, and Obama received over 4 million more votes than his Republican opponent.

So naturally the Republicans in Congress now propose Mitt Romney’s campaign platform as their idea for a budget compromise. I called their position morally obscene above, and I meant it. On one hand Republicans argue that “painful cuts” must be made to entitlement spending because even if Bush’s tax cuts for the rich are allowed to expire the Trillion dollars in revenue that would generate still falls well short of stanching the red ink of our future deficits. Then Republicans turn around and advocate a plan that raises 20% less in actual revenue than the lapsed Bush tax cuts on the wealthy by themselves would bring in.

An additional 200 Billion dollar shortfall, do you know what that could pay for? When all is said and done its close to an even trade – Republicans want to give those dollars back to the wealthy and offset that cost by raising the age of Medicare to 67 to balance the ledger.

There are many differences between the wealthiest Americans and most of their fellow citizens, but the ability to plan for a comfortable retirement and the means to afford quality health care are prominent among the advantages they typically enjoy. Medicare was created to address Senior Poverty, specifically the inability of aging Americans to afford health insurance in their retirement years when their incomes typically are most limited. Most Americans may be living longer today than when Medicare was first established, but millions of us are becoming poorer sooner.

There is no such thing as reliable employment for life any longer. Pensions are going the way of wind up watches, and few of us are earning gold ones, wind up or not, from grateful employers these days. Pink slips are far more likely, especially for workers over 50 with seniority generated higher wages and benefits. It is a rapidly shrinking percentage of older Americans who can count on retiring from a well paid job when 65 rolls around, with or without an employer provided pension. It’s increasingly more common for late middle age Americans to burn through their retirement savings trying to stay afloat during the decade before they can finally qualify for Social Security and Medicare.

Allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to finally expire is the least the wealthiest Americans can do for their fellow countrymen and women now after well over a decade of sustained and dramatic income growth within their ranks during a time when real income for the vast majority of Americans has stagnated or actually fallen. That doesn’t qualify as a sacrifice, it is merely justice delayed. Only then can we begin negotiating what burdens each of us as Americans are reasonably in a position to bear in order to put our nation’s finances on sounder footing.

Romney Forfeited His Closing Argument

It’s a tradition when Election Day looms, candidates for President fashion their closing argument to voters. Even when they have nothing new to offer they attempt to make a definitive case. On a deeper level they are asking for the confidence and trust of the American people in the final hours before the last votes are cast. Mitt Romney is no different than other presidential candidates in this regard, but he has no closing argument to make, though he no doubt has much to say.

A closing argument presupposes a prior dialogue; a closing argument concludes a social contract. A closing argument summarizes what had been an ongoing discussion in a final powerful appeal to reason that extends beyond emotions alone. Mitt Romney chose not to pursue an open and probing exchange with the American people during his campaign for President, so he can’t now present a closing argument for a conversation that never happened. What he concludes with now instead is a mere exhortation, and a naked appeal for loyalty that he refused to make the effort to legitimately earn.

We are proud of our Democracy and democracy for us means much more than a methodology for establishing a government. It is a reoccurring covenant between those who seek to lead us and the citizenry who seek those who best represent us. Democracy rests on our ability to make informed decisions about those who we literally must choose to govern us. Mitt Romney failed his part of the essential social contract. He consistently errs on the side of sharing what he wants us to hear as opposed to revealing what we have a valid need to know. Romney has done so in ways both small and large. He has done so by commission as well as by omission. He has done so by indifference, and he has done so by intent. In so doing he has failed a basic test of leadership.

It is not the only failing Mitt Romney has exhibited, but it is the central one. He systematically restricts our ability to know both how and where he would lead us if given that opportunity. For one thing Romney is a commiserate cherry picker of the past He embraces the personal success of his business career but evades responsibility for the dark side of Bain Capital, a company he created and charted the course for. It’s a company that Romney still massively profits from, yet when confronted by politically unpalatable business choices Bain made while he remained its C.E.O. he called his legal title then a technical formality only, and washed his hands of consequences. When now pressed about substantial ongoing investment income from companies that outsource to China he says his hands are clean because his holdings are in a blind trust. Yet in 1994 he said, “The blind trust is an age old ruse, if you will, which is to say you can always tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do.”

Mitt Romney brags about “saving the Olympics” but neglects to note that he did so in large part by successfully begging for a massive bail out from Congress. Yet he daily belittles the role of the public sector in keeping our nation great. Mitt Romney takes great pride in having served as Governor of Massachusetts, but he disavows the platform that won him his single term there. He boasts about “not raising taxes” as Governor but is silent about the hundreds of millions of dollars in new “fees” that he introduced instead. Romney selectively (depending on the audience) takes credit for his primary bipartisan achievement in Massachusetts, Romneycare; while continually pledging to destroy that same model on a national scale, while promising to later restore popular aspects of it, but refusing to say how.

Mitt Romney is the son of another Governor who once ran for President himself, a father who he expresses great love and admiration for. When George Romney ran for the Presidency he set the gold standard for transparency and self disclosure. When he released 12 years of personal tax returns George Romney remarked “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show,” Though Mitt Romney released 23 years of past full tax returns to the McCain campaign when he was vetted as a possible VP choice in 2008, he now says most of two years of actual returns and a summary report from prior years is all that voters need to know. This from a man who admittedly has secret Swiss bank accounts and off shore tax havens and an army of personal accountants skilled at exploiting arcane tax dodges that most Americans don’t even know exist.

Mitt Romney routinely passes off politically popular goals for America that sound suspiciously like a free all you can eat lunch buffet, as if they were real plans for actually achieving them. When pressed, once again, details are scant. The voters, Romney says, don’t need them before Election Day. Like Nixon and the Viet Nam war, we should content ourselves with knowing that he has a plan.

Republicans of course do have a detailed economic blueprint, albeit a politically unpopular one. It is called the Ryan budget, and Mitt Romney personally picked its author as his running mate, even though Paul Ryan had no prior foreign policy or executive experience to speak of. Paul Ryan’s rose to prominence because of that budget plan. Romney chooses to distance himself from the math that plan depends on, despite choosing to make Paul Ryan next in line for the presidency.

This list, unfortunately, could go on for pages but the pattern is abundantly clear. Like the punch line from a popular perfume ad from many years past, Romney will promise us anything, but he will give us… what?

For better or worse, Barack Obama is the incumbent in this election, and he has an actual record to run on that voters have access to weigh when they ponder who to reward with their trust. As the challenger Mitt Romney was tasked with presenting a credible alternative to voters, not just an opportunity to choose “other”. Mitt Romney never made his case to be President. Time is up, and his arguments remain hollow.

For Democrats the Short National Nightmare is Over

On October 4th 2012 we woke up to a chilling prospect. A man who hired for his advisors most of the foreign policy team that thrust America into a disastrous Iraq war; a man who pioneered the outsourcing of American jobs to China; a man who stashed away untold millions of his personal fortune in secret Swiss bank accounts; that man could actually become the next President of the United States. By steamrolling through the first Presidential debate and denying his own positions on key issues, Mitt Romney for several weeks was promoted as the likely next American President.

The media class in America, our political sportscasters, suddenly had that horse race they were always dying to cover, and they guarded it like a dog would a steak bone, lest someone try to take it away from them. In the process they redefined the political vocabulary. Momentum was no longer a vague and transitory phenomenon. Now it could be measured precisely. When it came to the 2012 Presidential race, momentum was determined by comparing the poll numbers for each respective candidate from mid September 2012, after Obama’s high water Democratic Convention bounce peaked; with whatever polling numbers were henceforth recorded daily.

No other poll fluctuations mattered. If Obama went up and Romney went down from one day to another it was immaterial to political reporting on Mitt Romney’s “continued momentum”, So long as Romney showed any continuing sign of retaining more support now then he dad back when pundits were calling his campaign a total train wreck, Romney was said to “have momentum”. Three subsequent nationally televised debates occurred after October 3rd; two more Presidential debates and a Vice Presidential debate. Polling pretty clearly established that the Democrats won all three of them, but no matter said the talking heads. The public was no longer effected by updated public perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama because, they assured us, though President Obama may or may not win “a small bounce”, Mitt Romney had momentum. And momentum trumped anything even “The Donald” could do to change the dynamics of the race.

There was plenty of data indicating that Mitt Romney maxed out his much reported on popularity surge long before the Atlantic Ocean stormed into people’s homes and lives during Hurricane Sandy. Coming into the last two weeks a presidential race that had been predicted to be tight for at least a year previously turned out to be, surprise surprise, tight. With all of the endless talk about “bounces” and “momentum” the pundits neglected the most blatant poll move of all. Call it “the dip”.

For a month or so there between the Republican National Convention and the first Presidential debate, the Mitt Romney campaign almost imploded. For that brief political period Barack Obama’s presidential prospects seemed, in hindsight, artificially strong. Obama’s unexpected strength coincided with that temporary Romney dip. That was the real story, just an aberration from the close race always expected . By fixing on that brief skewed period as the basis for all subsequent comparisons, an ongoing political narrative was born: the myth of Mitt Romney’s potentially unstoppable political momentum. Far more unstoppable than whatever momentum Romney came out of the first debate with however was that myth itself.

Inside the media bubble, “buzz” feeds back on itself until virtually nothing can be heard above the resulting screech: Not a sharp drop in the unemployment rate, not a sharp rise in Consumer Confidence, not an improving housing market, and certainly not a stubborn pattern of swing state polling that showed Barack Obama holding on fast to the leads he needed in enough of them to secure a second term. That “buzz” of course was Romney’s continually referenced momentum. We all have experienced that shrill feedback spike that happens after microphones go ballistic. That loop continues to amplify until someone or something intercedes and cuts off the volume. That something was Hurricane Sandy.

The incessant chorus of pundits amplifying a self reinforcing meme was finally drowned by a force more primal than their mono-tone drone. It was a force that many, including New York City’s Mayor, believe is a harbinger of global climate change, any real discussion of which was itself drowned out during this election by “white noise” emanating from the Tea Party. All of that has receded now, faster than the flood waters that changed the North East coast and the lives of millions of citizens

This week the fever broke and reality set in. America witnessed the legitimate purpose of government in a way mere words can never quite convey. And we watched President Obama once again take charge during a time of real crisis. That is how his first term began. That is how his first term is ending. And it reminds the electorate that we already have the leader we will need to face the next four years. The momentum now belongs to Obama.

Sandy Drowned Any Significant Chance of Election Theft

For those who worry about such things as potentially vote flipping electronic voting machines, I suspect that threat has receded now from whatever level it was at just one week ago. Hurricane Sandy saw to that.

There is no longer a plausible narrative that can be spun invoking an under appreciated late breaking surge for Romney that could be used to explain Romney at the last minute winning states that most observers and pollers expected him to lose. In truth whatever momentum Romney got from the first debate stalled weeks ago, but that wasn't enough to drive a stake through the heart of Romney's Momentum Myth. Sandy was though.

Sandy stopped the campaigns and shut down whatever election expectation programs had been running. Now America are turning to a fresh rebooted screen. On it we see government aiding its citizens and President Obama clearly in command, and just about everyone expects Obama to benefit from a positive "bounce" in voter support as a result. Romney can't change the new narrative between now and Tuesday. He is going to have to lose this election all on his own.

An Opportunist Candidate.

It’s not subtle, it’s stark. Rarely has a major party candidate for President so positioned himself to ride any and all prevailing currents, regardless of the facts, the way that Mitt Romney has during this presidential run. His is a full spectrum candidacy, a self proclaimed “severe conservative” now waxing poetic on bi-partisan rule; a man who swore fidelity to Grover Norquist on taxes now pledging to end gridlock in Washington by “reaching out” to Democrats.

Not in living memory has any Party in Congress pursued such an obstructionist agenda as have Republicans against the current President. Obama took office with a strong popular mandate during a near catastrophic national economic crisis, while our nation was fighting two foreign wars. His political honeymoon wasn’t short, it was nonexistent. On the same day Obama was inaugurated, Republican leaders secretly gathered in D.C. plotting how to best sabotage his presidency. Not just this or that aspect of it, but how to thwart everything Obama might attempt to accomplish, calculating that the President’s failure was the surest path to a Republican return to power. This isn’t a matter of conjecture; it has all been fully documented. You can ask Paul Ryan, he was there.

By choosing Paul Ryan, a key member of the Republican Congressional leadership, as his Vice Presidential choice Mitt Romney not only wed himself to Ryan’s economic budget, but to Congressional Republican obstructionism as well. While the Republican House of Representatives kept busy holding dozens of symbolic votes to repeal Obamacare, Republicans in the Senate easily smashed all previous records for use of the filibuster to block Obama’s agenda.

Romney’s current homage to the spirit of bi-partisanship is just the latest of his efforts to reap the benefits of voter dissatisfaction caused by Republican Party actions, and as such it is illustrative of his opportunistic nature. It is hardly the most significant example though. For that just look to the economy: The current misleading ads that Romney is airing regarding Jeep moving production to China captures his methodology in a Mitt shell. Chrysler’s Jeep division actually just invested over 1.7 billion dollars to expand U.S. production, with 1,000 new jobs slated for Toledo Ohio and another 1,000 workers already added producing new Jeeps in Detroit.

Romney conveniently leaves all that out with his latest disinformation campaign, focusing instead on the fact that Jeep is increasing production in China also, to keep up with rising demand there.. Romney used one piece of data pointing to an international economic recovery, which is beneficial to Americans,, and twisted it around to play to voter fears about outsourcing American jobs to China. This coming from the man who founded Bain Capital which pioneered the actual outsourcing of American jobs to China.

Outsourcing American jobs was beneficial to Mitt Romney then, but blaming it on the President is politically expedient for Romney now, even while he continues to reap political rewards from outsourcing today.. How you might ask? Simple; just look at Mitt Romney’s political campaign contributions (to the extent that today’s Republican Supreme Court’s bastardized campaign contribution laws allow you to anyway). The same corporate order that reaped huge profits from the outsourcing American jobs is the one financing Mitt Romney today. They now which side their bread is buttered.

But controversy over one misleading Romney campaign ad barely hints at the full opportunistic nature of his entire Presidential campaign. Romney used a national Presidential debate to warn the American people that:

"If you re-elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You're going to get a repeat of the last four years”.

In so doing either Romney was predicting another catastrophic global financial system meltdown, or he was expecting the electorate to develop amnesia. Count on it being the latter. The Great Recession, the greatest international economic crisis in over 80 years, happened on the last Republican watch, and was aided and abetted by Republican economic and regulatory policies virtually indistinguishable from the ones that Mitt Romney now champions. But America’s suffering produced a political opportunity for Mitt Romney.

Yes, he says, it’s been a rough four years, but don’t dwell on why it happened. Instead blame it on the man who inherited the crisis from day one, faced it to a stand still, and then turned the tide toward a full recovery with precious little help from Republicans, and constant gale force opposition from the Congressional G.O.P. leadership. Almost all current economic indicators now are looking up, but Mitt Romney will never acknowledge that while another man remains President. Right on cue, for now all good news for America stays stubbornly “disappointing”.

Which is only what should be expected from a presidential candidate whose much self proclaimed business success was, literally, firmly rooted in opportunism. Bain capital didn’t make products, they made “strategic investments”, and the strategy employed was always the same, to take advantage of whatever opportunity presented itself, to advance the financial interests of the principals. If that meant taking control of an undervalued asset to expand on and profit from, fine. If that meant bleeding another asset dry, bankrupting it, shedding “liabilities” like worker pension funds, and then dismantling it for parts, that too was fine. So long as Mitt Romney and his fellow travelers profited from the deed., it made no difference. Money could be made betting against America just as easily as it could by betting on it.

Mitt Romney can changes his positions on issues weekly, and the public tone he takes hourly, but one thing does not change. He stays an opportunist.

Obama Courts the Motherlode of Undecideds

When you can't see the forest for the trees it becomes easier to get lost. President Obama's swing state scramble has sent a number of political analysts off barking up the wrong tree, failing to grasp the larger picture.

They view the President's current hectic travel plans as an indicator of electoral anxiety, an admission that a second term might be slipping away from Obama, swept away by an incoming Romney tide. Though basic facts don't actually support that view, political pundits as a lot are addicted to tea leaves; they just can't read enough of them. Reporting from the bottom of their cups, a narrative has emerged. Fearful of losing, Barack Obama is now scrambling for every vote, with his re-election chances seen hanging by a slender thread. It's not just the President's travel schedule that is being used to buttress that viewpoint. It's also Obama's campaign ads themselves, most notably the one that reminds us all of the breath taking closeness of the 2000 Florida vote that could have kept the Supreme Court out of it had just 538 more Florida Democrats voted for Al Gore in that election.

Conventional punditry sees all this as plausible proof that Barack Obama is anxious about his chances against Mitt Romney, more so than Mitt Romney is about his own Presidential chances. Hogwash, to use the polite way of putting it. No doubt neither side will be sleeping easy at night until this election is finally settled, but in private both sides exude at least equal confidence in the outcome. There is nothing coming out of Chicago to indicate a pessimistic outlook (nor should there be but more on that later). So why the seeming difference in the public tenor of the race?

The answer is straight forward. Obama, not surprisingly, is courting undecided voters, but that isn't just the tiny indecisive sliver of the electorate that polling outfits assign such importance to. Obama is reaching out to a much bigger group of potential supporters, one that lately has slipped below the primary polling radar. He is calling out registered voters who are not yet fully committed to voting. He is appealing to people who are undecided on whether they will actually cast any ballot at all. Not only does this demographic lean more heavily toward Obama than do those deemed "likely voters', it holds a much bigger reservoir of potential votes than do the ranks of those more typically viewed as "undecided" or uncertain.

The best way to reach those voters is to ratchet up the stakes. The way to motivate them is to heighten the sense of drama that this election elicits. That follows a long evidenced political truism; Democrats traditionally do best when voter turn out is high, and voter turn out is traditionally highest during high stakes Presidential Election years. So the single most effective way for President Obama to increase his likely margin of victory during the time remaining in this election campaign is to goose voters, who are undecided about voting itself, off of their butts and into the polling booth. Obama can't accomplish that by sitting on a lead and employing a prevent defense. Obama must instead convey a sense of urgency about this election, and his words and actions are now calibrated to do just that. Romney on the other hand does not benefit by ramping up tension about the outcome, nor does he benefit by stressing the point that 2012 is an extreme3lya pivotal election to anyone outside his core base . Romney believes they will show up on election day, driven by their fervor for an extremist ideological agenda that Romney would rather not draw further attention to now, and by the hatred of the President. It is moderates and liberals who Romney hopes to leave sleeping with soothing noises about relative continuity, only better yet.

Forget any narrative that shows Romney favored to win, because the facts show that Obama is clearly ahead in this Presidential Election, where the winner will ultimately be declared by the Electoral College. Sure it is obviously still possible for Romney to win but the odds are against it. Romney consistently still trails in too many states that he needs to take in order to have a chance. Yes Mitt Romney had a spurt of momentum after the first Presidential debate. President Obama had his own after the Democratic National Convention. Those spurts are history now, both of them. They have run their course. We are back to where we were earlier in the Summer, when Barack Obama was favored to win. Time is running out for Mitt Romney. Barring some very dramatic unexpected event, all the potential game changing moments have come and gone.

We always knew what they were: Romney making his VP choice, two National Political Conventions, one VP debate and three Presidential debates. All lie in the past now and Barack Obama remains a popular incumbent President. There was one other potential game changer that the pundits all used to repeatedly cite before we ran the board on the others. They used to talk about the unemployment rate, specifically they mused on whether or not it would drop below 8% before election day. That used to be considered the ultimate game changer in this Presidential race. If that rate rose at all, Romney became the odds on favorite. If it held fast it would then be a toss up race. But if the unemployment rate fell below 8%, an Obama second term became much more likely. That is where we are at now and there is nothing predictably left to change the fundamentals of the race, which broke in the President's favor. Since "winning" Debate One, the Republican team lost the three that followed. The last bounce, whether big or small, went to the Democrats.

Obama no doubt is taking nothing for granted, but he is fighting for a mandate now, and a governing majority. He is fighting for Democrats in down ticket races who all become more likely to win if Obama can motivate the true undecideds, his secondary pool of supporters who may or may not decide to vote in the 2012 Presidential Elections. That is how to measure his remaining words and actions
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