Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mittens insults his own base!

There is a rich and delicious irony in the news story that broke late Monday afternoon, 17 September, and which was covered extensively tonight major network news hours. Romney describes a group of voters to a group of investors and, by extension political supporters. The scene, according to David Corn of Mother Jones, was a private a fundraising party with lots of booze and sex playmates. Those who take more from the government than they pay, said Romney, are not his concern. They will vote for Barack Obama under any circumstances. This inane charge breaks entirely new ground in political naiveté. Unbeknownst to mittens, he was actually describing where most of his votes actually come from!!! According to quite readily accessible demographic figures, It insults precisely those voting blocks most likely to vote for Romney himself. If these voting blocks only could hear what he said about them, might change their minds about for whom they are going to vote. The only demographic in which Romney holds a lead are those over 65 - those "entitled" to medicaid and medicare. Those who pay little or no income tax are those in red states! Ah what a glorious turn of events! When your enemy is making a savage mistake, don't interrupt - Napoleon.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Administration defense of the Affordable Care Act

As a former enthusiast for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and as someone approaching most political questions from the far left, I register here my dismay at the case prepared by Mr. Verrilli and Mr Kneedler to support the Affordable Health Care Act. Good friends who are accomplished lawyers tell me that the SG and ASG are indeed among the best of the nations lawyers. I am also not a lawyer. Nonetheless, it is clear to me from what was presented on the media I’ve seen that both the SG and the ASG were unconvinced of the constitutional foundation of the ACA. Their argument failed even to convince me of its constitutionality.

Ironically, the unconstitutional part of the law is actually a conservative republican idea that the president was forced, against his better judgment, to admit because he began negotiations by taking most reforms worth achieving off the table before any negotiations took place in Congress. The defense given repeatedly by the Administration is that the ACA does many good things. Perhaps that is true. However, if as seems likely, the five conservative justices declare the individual mandate unconstitutional, then we are left with a skeleton from which most of the good things in the bill have been removed.

I don’t know why the arguments presented by the Administration were not better prepared. I suspect it is a combination of factors, including the sense that the ACA itself is deeply flawed together with the national inattention of the President for the detail necessary to ensure that the Act will be declared constitutional, which led to a pathological combination of overconfidence and insecurity. At least that is what came across. How else could the Republicans find so easy a path to ridicule the Administrations presentation (ie., the clinking of glass and repeated “excuse me” from Verrilli). The SG’s closing remarks were typical flimsy liberal argument so pastiched by right-wingers over the years. Nowhere was there evidence that the Administration understood that the right wing plays hardball. No mention of the underlying constitutional issue. In short, it failed even to convince me that the law really is constitutional. It is difficult for me to imagine a worse argument, or to think of the SG and the ASG as anything but rookies. I am deeply embarrassed and shamed.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

venture/vulture capitalism

There was an especially helpful discussion of this issue on PBS last night where Judy Woodruff interviewed Josh Kosman and Stewart Kohl. Kohl is head of a Canadian Venture Capital group that has an much more respectable record than that of Bain Capital. Kosman is one of the most articulate and well-informed critics of venture capitalism that I have heard on the topic.


One aspect of venture capital that is especially troubling to me is those cases, exemplified by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, in which the debt incurred by Bain to purchase a company - usually one that is not in need of any help, but is unable to defend against the hostile takeover - is then vested somehow in the company itself, so that the purchaser (Bain Capital) can basically swallow up the assets of the healthy company, often including the pension plans of the workers at the purchased company, leaving that company to pay off the debt incurred when Bain Capital purchased them. Statistically speaking, many of these companies go bankrupt, while the venture capital group reaps multimillion dollar profits.

In my view, this practice should be highly illegal. However, it is not. It is, rather, venal, hypocritical, and devastating to the jobs and pension plans of the employees of the company taken over.

I cannot believe that anyone in his right mind can think of such an odious vulture as Mitt Romney in positive terms. The prospect of his ascending to power is abjectly horrifying.