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A lot of numbers will be thrown around and while it looks very good now and PPP is tweeting that tonight will yield more good news for Obama I think that too often the focus is on the wrong numbers.
First what number is the most important? The simple "who are you going to vote for" or "who do you approve of" are not the most important. Expressions for a candidate cover the gambit of 'yeah he's ok' to 'I am 100% behind this candidate'. Negative numbers are a lot more specific; "I don't like this guy".
The President's negative numbers have remained very stagnant, right around the 44% mark. Given that there is 40% of the population that are die hard Republicans/and or racists that will never support an African American Democratic candidate it is good news that of the remaining 60% of the population only 7% of that number is against the President.
Now look at Romney's numbers in all of the national polls. He is at 44/45%. He was at 44/45% and he remains there. It is his hard ceiling. It is telling that Romney's hard ceiling is the same as Obama's negatives. What this means is that Romney has basically persuaded no one that has an open mind.
For years ago when Secretary of State Clinton entered the Democratic race she had 42% and a big lead when there were 5 candidates. When the race was over she still had 42% which of course suffered when there were only two candidates. (With a little more time both Clintons are going to find that the American public is going to have an entirely different memory and perception in 2016). Sometimes campaigns have a ceiling that just won't move.
With no affection from any sector Romney is one of those candidates. He is stuck at 45%, and those are the same 45% that don't approve of the President.
Now there is very little chance of an incumbent President's negatives going up. If you haven't found a reason to not like him in the last 4 years you will not find one during the campaign.
Romney faces a different reality. A great deal of the country knows very little about him and there are lots of reasons for people to discover a reason that they don't like himl. In fact wherever there has been a sustaine primary campaign, like Iowa, Romney's numbers all go down.
Keep your eyes on three key numbers: the President's negatives ( set at around 44/45%), Romney's highest approval (same 44/45) and Romney's negatives (highest negatives of a Presidential candidate starting a campaign, likely to go up up up).
Posted by grantcart | Sun Sep 9, 2012, 01:34 PM (3 replies)
A little context.
After I left the UN I wanted to see what I could do in the private sector. I started a small business in my garage. Eventually we had to move out of the garage, we had to get more room, eventually room for 440 employees. We made furniture in Thailand mostly for the European market.
They took down the damned Berlin Wall (very inconsiderate that they couldn't have waited another 24 months until I got my IPO) and Poland and the Czech Republic actually became cheaper than Asia because their currencies had collapsed. Wipeout number one.
I made appointments to see the CEO's of other factories that I knew were growing and asked the astonished owners if they could take twenty or thirty of my excellent workers (they thought I was there to ask for a VP job). All my employees got a job offer.
Returned to the US and worked as a subcontractor and hired more employees. Got wiped out a second time. Promised Mrs. grantcart I would never hire again, couldn't stand the wipe outs. So I drew a line in the sand. Just do personal production, never hire again, never again would I be a 'job creator'.
I kept my resolve for 3 years. For 3 years I weathered yet another wipeout, this one because I couldn't buy health insurance, lost yet another house, but Mrs. grantcart understands the persistent cycle of kharma was just having fun messing with our minds so just grinned and bear it, atleast I wouldn't have to worry about hiring a bunch of others and all of the problems that brings, no more job creator.
Then my little sliver of the economy got a lot better. Yes I read about other DUers who are facing hard times, have been wiped out and are near that edge that I have had my toes overhang a couple of times. I know what its like to go to the landlord and have to ask for an extra couple of weeks and to finish out the last two weeks of a month on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Everytime I read one of those threads it hits me hard.
But my business kept getting better and now I am basically able to work every day but holidays. I can only make it to DU when somebody has to cancel an appointment.
My next scheduled day off is November 12th. The reason for that is I broke down and hired a secretary. She had been on unemployment for 2 years. She couldn't afford a phone, fix her car or use the internet. The same month that I hired her she went on Social Security. She works for me about 15 hours a week and earns about $ 400 (its based on output not hours and she keeps my schedule full).
I only did it because the President's optimistic outlook is so persistent and so infectious that if you give it half a chance it will take over. And that's the reason I hired a devout Catholic 62 year old that goes to Church 4 times a week to pray for others. And that's why when she told me that this job allowed her to fulfill a dream that she gave up 40 years ago when she had a teenage pregnancy. And that's why I am paying for all of her college expenses.
Yes we can go down the list of all of the policy victories that this President has either accomplished or tried, but this country will get another huge dose of "Yes we Can" and "Yes we have in the Past" and "We can be greater" and "I don't care how many times the Republicans diss me I still like them and think that I can get them headed in the right direction" and "I am still breathing so I believe that great things can be done" Obama-isms.
It reminds me of a 25 year old guy I used to know. He went to countries like Singapore and Indonesia and Malaysia and Thailand and when no one else believed that more could be done and that countries could modify a policy on refugees he got them to modify a policy, or a 32 year old guy I used to see that filled his garage with tables so that he could cut templates for some furniture.
Now I could call the appointment in Temecula tonight and postpone it so I could watch the President on the TV.
You see the 38year old mother of 5 who just re-entered the job market that I just hired for another full time position can't wait to get started, so you see its' the President's fault that I am going to miss the speech and I blame him.
I also understand that beyond the policies this President has given this nation what it needs most, a level of optimism that is almost obnoxious if he weren't so damn sincere about it.
He's got us believing in ourselves again.
Posted by grantcart | Thu Sep 6, 2012, 10:01 AM (15 replies)
Updated Gallup just felt it too!!!!!!
No not an earthquake.
A Great Big Post Convention Bounce is starting to rumble to the surface, Baby.
Posted by grantcart | Tue Sep 4, 2012, 10:20 PM (88 replies)
As Matt Taibbi explains in his article in Rolling Stone or was laid out in this DU thread earlier one critical fact about Romney and this election should make everyone squirm, but especially deficit obsessed conservatives:
No one has ever run for President having created so much debt (public or private). Romney hasn't just leveraged companies he has been in love with saddling them with massive, massive debt.
This isn't debt flirtation.
This isn't debt affection.
This isn't debt fixation.
This is a full blown debt fetish.
Now do you still want to give him the check book for the United States of America?
Make copies of the Rolling Stone article hand it to them and warn them they are about to read graphic debt porn.
Posted by grantcart | Fri Aug 31, 2012, 02:13 PM (2 replies)
KPETE's thread today captures the essence of a brilliant article by Taibbi in the Rolling Stone outlining how Bain Capital ruined companies by loading them with huge debt that would eventually swamp viable companies and allow Bain a second bite at selling off the parts.
KPETE's thread: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021223780
The real heart of Taibbi's article (IMHO) is a very specific discussion about Bain's role in KB Toys
I feel bad even asking Patnode about Romney. Big and burly, with white hair and the thick forearms of a man who's stocked a shelf or two in his lifetime, he seems to belong to an era before things like leveraged debt even existed. For 38 years, Patnode worked for a company called KB Toys in Pittsfield. He was the longest-serving employee in the company's history, opening some of the firm's first mall stores, making some of its canniest product buys ("Tamagotchi pets," he says, beaming, "and Tech-Decks, too"), traveling all over the world to help build an empire that at its peak included 1,300 stores. "There were times when I worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day," he says. "I opened three stores in two months once."
Then in 2000, right before Romney gave up his ownership stake in Bain Capital, the firm targeted KB Toys. The debacle that followed serves as a prime example of the conflict between the old model of American business, built from the ground up with sweat and industry know-how, and the new globalist model, the Romney model, which uses leverage as a weapon of high-speed conquest.
In a typical private-equity fragging, Bain put up a mere $18 million to acquire KB Toys and got big banks to finance the remaining $302 million it needed. Less than a year and a half after the purchase, Bain decided to give itself a gift known as a "dividend recapitalization." The firm induced KB Toys to redeem $121 million in stock and take out more than $66 million in bank loans – $83 million of which went directly into the pockets of Bain's owners and investors, including Romney. "The dividend recap is like borrowing someone else's credit card to take out a cash advance, and then leaving them to pay it off," says Heather Slavkin Corzo, who monitors private equity takeovers as the senior legal policy adviser for the AFL-CIO.
Bain ended up earning a return of at least 370 percent on the deal, while KB Toys fell into bankruptcy, saddled with millions in debt. KB's former parent company, Big Lots, alleged in bankruptcy court that Bain's "unjustified" return on the dividend recap was actually "900 percent in a mere 16 months." Patnode, by contrast, was fired in December 2008, after almost four decades on the job. Like other employees, he didn't get a single day's severance.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz24zAWyW9R
In the 80s I took my furniture company through the process of shopping it to venture capitalist consortium's, they included Rockefeller, Saudi and other big name groups. Typically they would combine 10 deep pockets, each putting in 25 million, then they would look at 100 companies, nominate about 10 for the second round and end up picking about 1 to invest in and keep going until there capital was committed
So I was not immediately biased that what Bain was doing was evil, I wanted to see for myself. So I had 3 days where I didn't have to work and I got a list of Bain investments and started going through them one by one. In some of the cases it seemed pretty clear that the companies were on the way out anyway.
And then I came to KB Toys. The reason that it stood out is that had already gone through a restructuring once and was profitable, award winning, had a social conscience. It was the perfect company for an ethical venture capitalist to invest in and get it to the next level.
Bain bought it, took out their cash, saddled it with debt and destroyed the company. I did a lot of original source checking and laid out the facts point after point on January 14, 2012.
Here is the thread http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511407
I detail the particular history of KB Toys and why it was the perfect example of Vulture Capitalism and here was my conclusion
Bain engineered a private equity purchase of a profitable company that had already gone through 'creative destruction' eliminating unprofitable legacy operations and saddled the company with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt. The company was not just profitable but an example of the kind of companies that demonstrate a wider social conscious for its customers and the larger community. Sixteen months after purchasing the company with only 6% cash of the value Bain takes out dividends at over 400% of their investment. Significantly this was done during the time of the attacks on 9/11 when the country as a whole was undergoing a heightened sense of patriotism, sacrifice and social duty. Less than 2 years after saddling KB Toys with massive debt and taking out astronomical dividends, K-B Toys faces Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closes 354 previously profitable stores.
Vultures take meat that is already dead and complete the final loop in the cycle of life.
Bain took a company that had already been restructured and was surging in profits and cash. There was never any interest by Bain to restructure KB Toys, that had already been done.
Bain purchased KB Toys simply to raid its cash, and they did so during a time when the rest of the country was undergoing a period of reviewing the founding principles of the country.
To call what Bain did to KB Toys as 'Vulture' Capitalism is an insult to Vultures.
They were pirates and this is why there is so much interest to change the subject and not let the real facts of Bain Capital come to the surface during the Republican Primary.
It matches what Taibbis wrote point by point but preceded it by 228 days.
Compare it to what Taibbi wrote and you can see that the essential facts were well discussed at DU 228 days before RS published Taibbi's elegantly written and well researched article containing essentially the same points.
A few days ago a social welfare manager did a similar point by point dissecting of the lies of the Romney campaign about what is happening on welfare.
Its the kind of thing that happens at DU alot. Not just ahead of the curve, way ahead of the curve. Those who do this for a living would be well advised to comb DUs threads carefully because there is a lot of gold in these forums, sometimes its weeks ahead and sometimes months ahead but the most compelling reason to be a regularly reader of DU is that it is a community that has a tremendous resource of people whose experience and passion result in a regular production of valuable data, opinion and discussion.
Posted by grantcart | Wed Aug 29, 2012, 09:08 PM (42 replies)
In my work I explain benefits to federal employees. A large percentage are in the border security/law enforcement field.
At one point I give a detailed explanation of how their 401k has functioned under Bush and under Obama. The results are presented completely apolitically but I use reference points based on the beginning and ending of administrations.
No need for commentary, the facts scream out, Bush cost them a lot, Obama has made them a lot.
It isn't unusual for the presentation to move into a little light hearted discussion and I can tell if they were voting Republican or Democratic before. A lot more of these guys voted Democratic last time and will again than you might expect.
Over the last year I have done 350 of these one on one sessions with the employee and their spouse.
Last night another very pleasant couple, obviously good parents, very relaxed personalities. He was a law enforcement officer and she worked in the private sector.
She was a lot more reserved than the normal occasion. It was a Border Patrol agent and this month three border patrol agents have died in work related accidents. In Yuma two died earlier in the year when they were killed by a train. Normally the wives are delighted to see me, as I explain their benefits to them, and how they can increase them, because they really have no idea.
I have a couple of jokes that always work well and one of them is "and then on TV the most frightening thing appeared that you will ever see in your life, a white guy in a suit with a piece of paper". You would be surprised at how Hispanics, African Americans and even most white guys laugh when they hear the delivered completely straight by a white guy holding a piece of paper.
You can see the relief in their faces and sometimes their eyes well up a little because they have been repressing some real fear and anxiety.
Last night the wife was engaged but somehow distant. No reaction to the insurance info, or the retirement.
When I showed the graph that showed how they lost so much under Bush and how they had gained so much under Obama the wife leaned forward and said "See I told you (with a deep and piercing glare to her husband)" and she reinforced it with a strong poke to his ribs.
I made a joke and he laughed, she laughed, they actually were very sweet people.
Now here is the point.
She was pissed about what the Republicans are doing and her husband probably voted Republican last time. I think she was distant in the beginning because she couldn't tell if I was a good ole boy or if I was straight with the facts.
I am telling you there is an intensity to the feelings that educated middle class women have about what is going on. They are not backing down, they are not going quietly. This was a church going somewhat traditional Catholic family with a law enforcement officer husband. It was the perfect demographic for the Republicans, but she was angry. This is the kind of anger I haven't seen anytime in the past few years, and she wasn't the first. This is the kind of "you better listen to what I am saying if you want any warm food between now and the election" kind of anger.
We had a very nice conversation after that and as I unloaded more and more facts the husband took it well, "I really didn't know that".
The long ride from Yuma to El Centro was quietly fulfilling as I remembered the intensity of her "See I told you" and his sheepish acceptance that in the past that he had been led astray by some white guy on TV in a suit with a piece of paper.
Posted by grantcart | Tue Aug 28, 2012, 05:52 PM (34 replies)
with a very quiet voice look directly into their eyes and in a very somber, deliberate and slow voice ask them;
"Does it give you pause at all that the only reason that this isn't a 50 state rout is that 1 out of every 3 of the people that you stand with are so blinded by racial hatred that they cannot correctly identify the President's place of birth, that Romney continues to go out of his way to keep those votes on the reservation , and that if those votes were subtracted this would be the greatest landslide in American history?"
and do not look away. Continue to go look straight in their eyes and if they give any other answer but "Yeah I am thinking of voting for the President" then continue to drill deep into their eyes (as if you were reading the operating instructions written on the inside of the skull) and without looking away say,
Posted by grantcart | Sat Aug 25, 2012, 10:05 AM (8 replies)
< Edit On Aug 22 the great events were forseeen in a great vision. Again DU is ahead of the rest.
Not for the satirically impaired>
Paul Ryan is the wonkiest wonkmeisterly Congressman to have ever gone to Congress. He has the entire US budget memorized for the last 10 years. He communicates extremely well and absolutely mesmerizes college faculty's and administrations. Nobel scientists ask him to check their equations before they write their thesis and then ask him to edit the thesis for clarity.
Paul Ryan has never lost a debate.
When he enters the Congressional Republican Caucus all of the members quickly stand and move their chairs aside with a Moses like parting of the room so that he can go to the front of the room unimpeded. They quickly take out pen and paper so that they can write down every word in an operational redundancy should their personal recording devices fail.
Paul Ryan has never lost a debate
He has won every debate he has ever entered. He is bold, brave and has a broad vision. He never prevaricates, dithers or contradicts himself. He is consistent, clear and concise. He is equally familiar with St. Paul, Thomas Aquinas and that atheist broad.
Vice President Joe Biden is just a good old hard working fun guy.
It will be a complete and total victory by Ryan. He is the sacred chalice of the future conservative movement. He is the next Ronald Reagan. Republicans will vote for Romney because they know that Ryan will persuade Romney to take all the right right right right choices.
Paul Ryan has never lost a debate.
In future years Italian composers will write Operas about Ryan's great victory. Anthems will be written and City block murals etched capturing all of the details. A comic book series and an IKEA foot stool will be created to mark it. Paul and Ryan will become the number 1 and 2 names for baby boys starting in 2013.
There are simply not enough adjectives that I could use to push up the bar to the height that Paul Ryan should have to jump over to win this debate.
Posted by grantcart | Thu Aug 23, 2012, 03:56 PM (92 replies)
It should be clear to all reasonable people that we operate in a public/private partnership. The basic understanding of that relationship was formed under the Roosevelt administration and bonded during World War II. Initially rejecting the modern understanding of the modern state the Republican Party eventually turned to Eisenhower to bring them back from political oblivion. Since that time there has been a back and forth between the two parties about how much should be private and how much should be public.
Under Bush II one element of that general broad consensus was breached. We openly attacked a country that had not attacked us. Using deception and manipulation they were able (with a cowered Democratic Party) to break away from the general working consensus that starting an all out war on a country should only happen when they actually attack us.
Now Romney/Ryan plan to conduct and even more brazen attack on the fundamental consensus of what the modern state should look like.
Yesterday, we touched on why Paul Ryan's budget will inevitably lead to skyrocketing deficits. But one part of that in particular deserves unpacking: Ryan wants to cut almost all of the discretionary federal budget down to just 0.75 per cent of GDP. That is, bluntly, impossible.
The (simplified) argument against Ryan's "fiscal credibility" is that he wants to cut taxes and spending. But while no-one ever argues with tax cuts, the spending cuts he has laid out are implausible. As a result, his plan would result in lower taxes but the same spending, creating a budgetary black hole which will rapidly increase the deficit.
. . . .
But all of this assumes that Paul Ryan will be able to get defense spending down to its historic minimum of 3 per cent of GDP. Right now, the National Security budget is $754bn, and the Department of Defense alone commands $671bn. That is 5.0 per cent, and 4.4 per cent, of GDP, which Ryan would need to slash.
The spending cuts he desires are impossible. They will not materialize, and never could be expected to. And so Ryan will either have to abandon his plan entirely, or pass unfunded tax cuts. If he really is a deficit hawk, that has got to qualify him as one of the most incompetent ever.
So they can't do it but in trying to do it they can lay the foundation for the same type of collapse that we are witnessing in Greece, drastic radical declines in public consumption leads to further collapse of the private sector leading to a dramatic drop off on tax revenue in an atmosphere of chaos that causes the soverign funds to stop purchasing US debt and forcing us to pay rapidly increasing interest rates in a spiral that will accelerate as it becomes clear that there is no more to cut and there are increasingly fewer revenues to service the debt, especially as the interest rate will continue to grow until a tipping point is reached and complete insolvency is reached because there will be no way to pay off the debt.
Beyond these conditions, and people should be absolutely terrified that these radicals will attempt it is one other element of the Greek collapse that the Romney/Ryan ticket will bring.
At the foundation of the Greek crises is not the unions, or the civil service abuse (and frankly some things you hear from Greece are pretty disturbing) but in the Greek constitution;
The Greek Constitution institutionalizes broad areas where no taxes are gathered, starting with revenues from shipping. Billionaire Greek Shipping magnates never have to pay one penny in taxes. They have expanded it to include capital gains and dividend income, yep they have the Romney/Ryan budget for years on the income side.
There are several cases of Tax exemptions under the Greek taxation system, these are as follows:
Proceeds from the sale of shares that are traded on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Income from ships and shipping.
A dividend received from a Greek company.
Capital gain from sale of a business between family members, as defined by law.
What is the result of such a policy?
Beyond the obvious lack of revenue from capital has been a collapse of tax revenues from the professional class and small businesses.
Map showing tax evasion in Greece by area
The euro crisis first started roaring in late 2009, when auditors inside the newly elected Greek government discovered that the country had a much—much—bigger deficit than anyone realized. That, in turn, inflamed fears that Greece couldn’t wiggle its way out of its debt trap so long as it was tethered to the euro. It also exposed structural problems within Europe’s currency union. Worries soon spread to Ireland, Portugal, and eventually Italy and Spain. Now the entire global economy is on edge.
But why did Greece have such a massive budget deficit in the first place? One factor (among many) was rampant tax evasion, which had starved the Greek government of funds. As it turns out, this was a very big deal indeed. The Wall Street Journal’s Justin Lahart points to a new paper (pdf) by three economists who estimate that the size of Greek tax evasion accounted for roughly half the country’s budget shortfall in 2008 and one-third in 2009.
How is it even possible to estimate taxes that aren’t ever paid? The economists, Nikolaos Artavanis, Adair Morse and Margarita Tsoutsoura, cleverly exploit a discrepancy. Few people in Greece want to report their real income to the government, since that would mean paying more taxes. But Greek banks have very solid estimates for how much income people are actually raking in — the banks need this info to make loans or to issue mortgages.
. . . .
In any case, this is hardly the only reason that the euro is now stuck in a crisis. As Paul Krugman explains in this lecture, the euro zone has long had all sorts of deep structural flaws that were bound to combust sooner or later. It just so happened that the spark, in this case, appears to have been Greek tax evasion.
It turns out when you exempt the very very very rich from paying their fair share of the tax burden then the dentist, optician, drug store owner, car mechanic, and all of the other professional and small business guys think "If they aren't going to pay their fair share then why should we pay ours?".
This is why it is so important that Romney release his tax records (and why his much more ethical father released 12 years when he ran for President). If he is elected and it is commonly believed that he paid only nominal taxes then there are tens of millions of small and medium businesses and professionals who will follow their Greek brothers and sisters and saying "its not fair for me to pay more than a rich shipping magnate" or in our case Mitt Romney.
The IRS actually checks only a very small percentage of the returns and if the tax system is perceived to be a cynical dodge for the rich then the vast number of self employed and small business owners will turn on it, just like they did for Greece.
Greece still hasn't amended its constitution. The plutocracy continues to live tax free so I am not too sympathetic to them, they asked for what they got. I understand why the workers in France and Germany are not happy to have to give up some of their money to pay for a country that doesn't tax its rich and where there is vast tax evasion by the upper middle class, but in their self interest and because they share the same currency they have come several times to bail them out.
So it is with astonishment that we watch an uninformed Republican Party follow the Greeks down the sinkhole.
There is one main difference between Greece and the US. The Greeks can get together and form a consensus and throw out the government and put in another one at any time. They could do it tomorrow.
In the US when you vote in an idiotic government you cannot get them out for stupidity. They get 4 years and if people weren't aware of this fact and how disastrous it can be then George Bush showed it in painful detail.
So if Romney is President and he lead us down the path to an Athens style collapse who does he think will be there to bail US out? No economy in the world could help and we would bring the world economy down and start another long depression. After you destroy the revenue base of the US government where do you go for help?
The planet Kolob? Maybe there is some intergalactic FDIC plan that Romney hasn't told us about.
Posted by grantcart | Thu Aug 16, 2012, 01:34 PM (13 replies)
Bến Tre, on 7 February 1968. Arnett cited an unidentified U.S. military official in his report: "'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it', a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.
This is what Romney/Ryan means when they say that they are going to save Medicare
Posted by grantcart | Wed Aug 15, 2012, 03:08 PM (6 replies)