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Archive for August 2011

Perry – Rubio. GOP Ticket. Discuss.

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Rick Perry is in the process of dismantling Mitt Romney. He’s sucked the air out of the race, and made it very hard for anyone else to get traction. Bachmann’s initial mo has stalled, Huntsman is finding it hard to get any purchase at all, and Palin would find it very hard to dislodge Perry from front-runner status if she decided – belatedly – to run. She had her chance before he declared, but now he’s in, it’s going to be very heavy sledding (pardon the pun) for her to take a winning bite out of a very restive GOP primary base. Ron Paul is only considered electable by that GOP base, Gingrich is on life-support, and rest of the line-up right now are seat fillers at best.

Of course, it’s early days, and the race hasn’t even begun in earnest, but Thereisnoplan regards Perry as a very, very major threat to Obama. He’s playing dumb for the primaries to help lock up the knuckle-draggers, and has already courted the Evangelical vote with his “The Response” lam-o prayer meeting at an echoing, half-empty Houston Texans Stadium. He’s working the tough Texan BS for the primaries, but my suspicion is you’ll see a much more polished and thoroughly All-American Perry if he gets the nod. His ability to adjust on the fly suggests he’s no fool, and as a cliched American foil to the polyglot professorial Obama, he’ll be very effective. He’s also eminently capable of walking back some of his more outrageous statements about Medicare and Social Security, along with his hints about Secession. He might even turn those switches to his advantage. He can ‘pivot’ to ‘compassionate conservatism’ with ease because of his (totally fake) Evangelical credentials. In short, while he’s got weaknesses, which could lay him low, he’s also got many, many weapons in his arsenal.

And there’s another string to Perry’s bow too. He’s white, which – because he’s facing an African-American President – means he needs a woman or a minority candidate on his ticket. The only two practical choices among women are Palin and Bachmann, both of whom are very bad fits for Perry, which means he’ll go minority, which means he’s almost certain to choose Marco Rubio.

Rubio brings huge power to a Perry led ticket. He’s the young, clean-cut, acceptable face of right-wing lunacy, likely to play a classic protege to the “wise” Perry. He’ll also have naive Latino voters nationwide voting for him in droves, ignoring their own economic and social interests to vote for a guy who speaks Spanish and will play up his heritage every chance he gets. Florida will be a lock, Nevada and the Four Corner states will almost certainly go Red, and even California will be in play, drawing big resources from Obama’s campaign that will have to focus on the North East in the eye of a major economic meltdown.

The threat of a Perry-Rubio ticket highlights a critical issue. It’s become clear that all the attempts to talk the Economy into a recovery have failed, so Obama is now vulnerable from a mainstream GOP candidate, who has the power to reach the center. There are others too. George Allen, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie, are all bad news Republicans with the potential to appeal to Independents. It’s not just Huntsman and Romney who could give Obama a run for his money now.

Obama needs to find his mojo fast, and his Independent direction is the only sure way to go – as distasteful and essentially useless as it is to all sensible supporters of the New Left. Obama’s bloodless, professorial approach to government has proved to be a problem. Just being the only “adult in the room” is not enough to get you elected in America. You need some fire in your belly too, and it’s not certain that the low-energy President hasn’t had it shaken right out of him by the sheer enormity of the task he’s faced over the last two and a half years.

The problem is that a non-ideological centrism is hardly the stuff of whistle-stop fire-branding across America. By definition it’s kind of boring. As much of a contradiction in terms as it might seem, Democrats will have to push hard to claim and hold the centrist ground that seems, more than slightly, to be slipping away. One, shocking and rather distasteful way for bi-partisan obsessed Obama to do that would be to outflank the GOP by putting a Republican on the ticket. Biden has to go. He can’t stand as a presidential candidate in ’16, which means the Democrats would be losing an incumbent advantage should Obama win next year. Biden’s old, he’s regarded poorly, and he’s not ambitious. He should be asked to step aside and will likely accept. That opens the way to an aggressive centrist choice by Obama. The obvious two names are Scott Brown and Jon Huntsman. The only Democrat who comes close to having the same impact would be Jim Webb, but with a GOP guy as Veep, Obama would have no problem establishing his centrist bona-fides, and his choice of running mate could insulate him against what are likely to be vicious “socialist” attacks from the right.

At this point, with the current against the Dems economically and politically, and with the House and Senate likely to stay or go Red next year, regardless of our own brand of Democratic politics, we simply have to hold on to the veto pen, which would be the only thing between America and the serious beginning of the end of its social contract. Thereisnoplan has come to realize that Obama’s dull, technocratic centrism is a far, far better alternative to what the hyenas have in store for us. It’s also the only game in town right now.

Left and Center must unite. We’re fighting a rear-guard action. Little Round Top.  20th Maine. Hold the line or die.

The time to trash the President for his failures is over.

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Written by coolrebel

August 27, 2011 at 1:25 am

Libya Liberated. Oil Running Out.

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The liberation of Libya from Gaddafi’s “Green Book” insanity is the beginning of at least a ray of hope that Arabs could begin to catch up with the rest of the developed and developing world. Saudi Arabia is tougher nut to crack, of course, but the last thing that Riyadh wants is to see Libya’s transformation be successful. They’re hoping against hope that tribalism, factionalism, and incompetence deal a blow to its hopes of transformation.

Libya’s proximity to Europe and its huge oil wealth at least give it the chance of bucking the trend so far apparent in the “Arab Spring” that it’s been a rather drab, superficial affair, in which one set of despots has merely given way to another, in uniform, usually.

But behind all the flag waving, behind the obvious success of the US and its Allies in maneuvering Gaddafi out of power with a frankly excellent display of surgical air power, and superb work giving the rebels a semblance of command and control is a horrible specter.

Time.

It takes time to build institutions, to overcome the crushing let-downs that a “spring” brings to a people waiting for decades to find its voice. It takes time and perseverance to overcome the factionalism, the greed, the religious zealotry, the poverty, the incompetence, the sheer lack of practice that new Arab leaders are about to face. Years at the least, most likely decades.

But decades is exactly what they don’t have.

Because just as the Arab world finally has at least the potential to throw off its dictatorial chains, and needs all the financial resources it can muster to build its institutions and its dignity, the world will have to move away from the source of that revenue. It’s a crushing indictment of the Arab world and its leadership that it never even got close to diversifying its productive capacity away from the easy seductive power of oil.

Written by coolrebel

August 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

Debt Ceiling Debtageddon. Another Y2K?

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So let me get this straight.

The President and a bunch o’ pundits said that if we defaulted on the debt ceiling we would have been downgraded, and cried catastophe whenever they got the chance, with Geithner,  Goldman Sachs’ favorite bagman, leading the chorus of Cassandras.

Putting aside the fact that the debt ceiling was a technicality and that our bills would have continued to be paid over time, we didn’t miss out on the debt ceiling – and we were still downgraded.

So the President’s Debtageddon scenario came to pass.

And what happened?

The markets plummeted – mainly because of some bad economic numbers and the Euro Debt Crisis – and then bounced right up again. Stocks are pretty much where they were. And most importantly – the yield on a 10 year note hit its lowest point in history, as everyone flooded into ‘downgraded’ treasuries.

Moody’s and Fitch’s Rating Agencies ‘shrugged off’ what their buddies at S+Poorhouse decided to do, which is bad news for S+P, who now look like outliers (with the accent on the ‘liars’).

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there would have been no debtageddon, and the President’s use of the threat totally backfired.

Instead of forcing the GOP to buckle, the Cassandra threats of our demise and the attack by the ‘bond vigilantes’ enabled the Tea Party to leverage real power because they didn’t care if we ‘defaulted’ (a misused term if ever I heard one). That set up a classic blowback which allowed Boehner to be ‘forced by’ or in other words ‘use’ Tea Party intransigence to force Obama to back way, way down.

It’s easy to say, but what the President should have done was to stand up to GOP intransigence, with the help of some real – non Wall Street led – economic advice. We aren’t in a debt crisis. US Treasuries will remain the haven of last resort for decades to come. We need stimulus spending. Medicare saves the US money. Social Security is not at risk. The Pentagon has to be cut.

If he’d just asked for a clean bill in Congress, and then when the GOP failed to pass it, ignored the debt ceiling completely, debtageddon would simply not have happened, and the issue would quite simply have faded away.

The Debt ceiling would have been passed in a sad voice vote sometime just before the recess.

Bless them, but yet again, Obama’s political and economic team made a dog’s dinner of things.

Written by coolrebel

August 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Obama: How to Steer Clear of the Carter Curse.

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The wheels are coming off the wagon of the Obama presidency.

He needs to get a grip quick or he’s going to be painted with the Carter curse – that horrible, contagious sense people get that the President is essentially a powerless passenger, lacking will, lacking a decisive, well, plan.

The latest and most strategically crucial mistake he has made was simple and profound. By essentially buying into the false narrative that America is facing a fiscal crisis – which it isn’t – Obama is accepting an impossible task as being decisive in whether he’s re-elected. His job is to pump-up America and explain why we’re not in trouble, not to swallow the GOP narrative that we are.

The view that he’s pathologically wedded to compromise, or a Wall Street stooged are all true but played out. It’s too late to worry about them now. The truth is, he’s the President. And the President has a pen that can at the very least keep the insanity at bay. Yes, he missed a huge opportunity to be the change agent he promised to be.  But what he ‘should’ have done is now a moot point.

We need to get this guy re-elected.

In a matter of months, Obama is going to be tarred with the “Carter Curse” if he doesn’t start getting more muscular in his public pronouncements, and show a more deft touch politically.

It’s clear that he’s running as an independent, a Reaganesque figure who wants to inspire – or re-inspire in his case, but that’s okay. ‘Progressives’ need to stop whining and think big picture. Anything to win. Anything to keep the GOP hyenas at bay. There’s no point pining for the policies he should have pursued in his first two years – as furious as many of us are that he allowed himself to be so outplayed with so little resistance. The truth is, we’re in a different game now.

He needs to find his mojo again, to forget substance – never his strong suit – and go all out superficial.  The truth is that if he can re-ignite the rock star in himself, people will forget all he hasn’t done. And if anyone can do it, Obama can. He’s a five-tool player on the stump. Best the Dems (he’s at least a Dem in name if not in nature) has ever had. He needs to return to his rhetorical flourishes that gave him traction in the first place. He needs to recapture that King meets Kennedy thing that he got going. And he needs to do it before the Carter Curse sets in.

It’s all about campaigning now. And campaigning to restore pride in America seemed to work pretty darn well for the Gipper.

Written by coolrebel

August 10, 2011 at 12:03 am

Posted in Carter, GOP, Obama, Washington

The London Riots. Flat Screen TVs, Blackberries, and Popular Dissent

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Here’s the reality of the London riots. Yes, they’re vandalism. Yes, they’re an incoherent expression of the hopelessness that these kids feel.

They’re not smart, they do have an unhealthy sense of entitlement, but to an extent these kids do have a right to feel marginalized and forgotten. Much of that feeling is their own fault. Much of that is their parents’ fault. Much of that is laziness, and poor choices (like where do they get those blackberries) in a pampered society. Some of it isn’t.

And here’s something else, life for American minority kids is way, way tougher than for the kids in the poorer areas of the UK.

But it boils down to this. Anyone – and that’s most people – who suggest that these kids are simply hooligans or just communards manning the barricades is being intellectually dishonest.

Written by coolrebel

August 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Posted in London riots, UK, Washington

Crime and Punishment in Beverly Hills

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Something small but tragic happened at the Whole Foods Market in BH today. A woman was gaming the computerized recycling bins which spit out a coupon to use in the store when you return your glass or plastic bottles.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on, because I’m an honest soul. But it basically went down like this. She was continually scanning a 10c container and then depositing 5c containers in the bucket.

This woman seemed a little perhaps desperate, as many on the periphery in America’s most famous rich urban district can be but there was something particularly sad about nickel-and-diming for 50c or a buck at the expense of the State of California.

The moment said so much about the nation and the economy. Beggary had come to Whole Foods in Beverly Hills. Our little Disneyland, up until now, almost immune from the crisis but for a few empty storefronts in downtown was succumbing slowly but surely to the same shifty sadness that had enveloped so much of the country. We’re a nation that’s becoming less friendly, more concerned about our shrinking futures, and 401ks, at the expense of the nation’s cherished and up until now almost continual optimism.

If this woman was ripping off California for a buck, could she be trusted? No. But more importantly, can a nation that is merely surviving be truly trusted anymore to do the right thing. Judging by the pathetic display in Washington up until last week, perhaps not.

Written by coolrebel

August 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Washington

Palin, Your Time Is Up.

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Sarah Palin had plenty of opportunity to jump into the ring, and make hay in Iowa at the expense of her lookalike Michelle Bachmann. But with the Iowa Straw Poll this Sunday in Ames, IA, it looks like she’s gonna continue to be a no-show in this race, despite the fact that poor Barack just can’t seem to catch a break, and Sarah is running second without running at all. It’s beginning to look like she’s not stepping up.

Thereisnoplan is surprised. Not because she’s missing a golden opportunity to show us the ‘real’ Sarah Palin, but because this campaign was a great big BP fastball for a rampant egotist like Palin, and the consequences of not running might seem to be too horrific to imagine for someone like the ‘cuda. A retreat to post-celebrity status for an ego like that would seem to be fate worse than death.

We’re going to have to make do with Bachmann, it seems. But at least we have her outrageously not gay husband to keep us all amused in the coming months.

Written by coolrebel

August 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm