First, the Losers:

1) Herman Cain, obviously.

2) The GOP: Just one more embarrassment spilling out of the clown car.

3) The Koch Brothers: Herm‘s their employee.

4) The American People—Because of the fact that, scandal or not, for a few more news cycles Herman Cain will be discussed as a real presidential candidate.

and the winners:

1) Herman Cain —he’ll play the victim, sell more books, get the Fox gig and maybe even Dancing With the Stars

2) Rick Perry — The anti Romney vote has nowhere else to go; if he can suck up Cain’s RWNJ voters in Iowa, S.C and Fla., he can make a righty run at the Mittster.

3) Mitt Romney— Perry is incompetent and even if he temporarily absorbs Herm’s wingnuts, he’ll find a way to f— it up; the rest of the clowns make even Mitt—the spineless, oily, flip-flopping, plutocratic weasel—look statesmanlike.

4) The media—Another nice, sensational story to keep them from covering issues that matter to the American people.

5) President Obama—Every day, and in every way, the GOP freak show makes him look better and better.


In the latest expression of voter dissatisfaction with the Republican Presidential field, Roman emperor Caligula has edged ahead of Mitt Romney for second place behind Herman Cain, according to a poll of Iowa GOP voters conducted by the Family News Service.

Caligula drew 24 percent, within two points of Cain, and two points ahead of Romney, in a sampling of 1,000 likely voters. Newt Gingrich followed with 10 percent, while Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann were tied at 7 percent. Incitatus, Caligula’s horse, polled at 2  percent, one up on Jon Huntsman.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.

Caligula’s sudden rise is somewhat surprising, given his licentiousness and Paganism– as Iowa is a state where GOP voters tend toward social conservatism. But according to Family News Service pollster Bland Blakely, “His tough stands on immigration and teachers unions, as well as his vow to repeal Obamacare  have earned him a close look.

“But above all, he’s executed a lot of people, which plays very well with the base.”

Caligula will meet with Donald Trump this coming Wednesday

The other night, my beautiful wife was crossing a Greenwich Village street; a group of Occupy Wall Street marchers had just passed by, peacefully chanting and carrying signs en route to Union Square.

My wife crossed on the green—and came within an inch of losing her life: A NYC motorcycle cop—chasing after the protesters—ran the red light at high speed. A slight move the wrong way and…

We are supporters of #OWS, horrified by the gross inequality and corruption in our system—though we haven’t walked the walk and marched (yet). At the same time, we’ve always been fans of the NYPD and Commissioner Ray Kelly, who have helped transform our long-maligned city into one of the nation’s safest. I believe we have an excellent police force, and that the overwhelming percentage of our NYC cops does a fine, honorable job. I have never had a bad experience with a New York City police officer.

But here and elsewhere—Oakland, most egregiously—an overreaction to OWS has unleashed authoritarian demons reminiscent of the 1968 Democratic Convention, and the dogs and hoses of Bull Connor.  Perhaps a few bad apple cops are getting paid off by Wall Street; perhaps it’s the post-9/11 mindset, in which “security” sometimes trumps civil rights.

Or perhaps it’s because the spirit of social protest has been awakened after decades of post-Vietnam slumber, decades during which, beginning with the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, a passive populace allowed “trickle down economics” to crush the national spirit at home, true “class warfare” creating today’s historic income inequality while neoconservative ideologues embarked on devastating misadventures abroad. And those who should have known better—Democrats, in other words—looked the other way, fearful of being branded “liberal,” a word twisted and corrupted to denote permissive, drugged out, anti-American, tree-hugging, promiscuous, baby-killers—oh, and they’re soft on defense, too.

Maybe it’s been so long since we’ve seen anything like this that our authorities can’t cope. They don’t know how to respond. Most of our cops and many of our public officials know nothing but a post-Vietnam, indeed, post-Reagan America.

What of the Tea Party? Well, it was stoked—perhaps even invented—by powerful moneyed interests, the Kochs and the ALEC types, who played on fear (as the Right always does)—especially fear of an uppity you-know-what with an exotic name.

Add the validation of a complicit media, and the fact that some of the Teabaggers brought guns to presidential events or spit on Members of Congress—including civil rights icon John Lewis—well, that was just Democracy in Action.  OWS, on the other hand? That’s dangerous unrest. Even though the former represented an overhyped fringe funded by Big Money, and the latter represents a huge majority—99 percent, in fact—of a nation that just can’t take getting crapped on anymore.

How this plays out depends largely on what happens in November 2012. I am a Barack Obama supporter still—yes, I have disappointments, yes, I understand that he’s been too tied to the banks, and I wonder why, of all the capable, progressive minds who have passed through his administration, he’s hanging onto Wall Street insider Timothy Geithner.

But there is no other choice. To throw up one’s hands and say “they’re all alike” is foolish and misguided. Imagine Mitt “Corporations are people” Romney in the White House. Imagine he has an entire Congress dominated by the cold-eyed likes of Paul Ryan, defenders of privilege, apostles of crackpot novelist Ayn Rand and her vision of a winners-take-all-no-matter-who-gets-screwed America, wherein compassion and altruism are weakness. Or the Herman Cains, who blame the poor for their poverty. A reversion to the 1880s-1920s, when plutocrats perpetuated themselves from generation to generation, and upward mobility—the American Dream—was a myth.

If you think what we’re seeing now is “social unrest”—you ain’t seen nothing yet.  OWS has been overwhelmingly peaceful—on the part of the protesters, at least. But if Washington continues to move rightward, if the Kochs and Alec and the top 1 percent of the 1 percent get their way, if their attempts to crush unions and suppress youth, minority and other Democratic-leaning votes is successful, if the anger, fear—and, yes, hope—of the 99 percent are met with nothing but the heel of a boot.

Then, I am afraid, there will be blood.

Even those of us who strongly support Barack Obama concede that this may be the nadir of his presidency. His approval ratings are dreary—though perhaps a bit better than expected, given that job and economic growth are maddeningly—and tragically—stalled. We live under a cloud of fear and pessimism.

Precisely why crippling inertia has gripped the nation—well, that question provides job-creating stimulus for pundits on every point of the political spectrum.

To be sure, Republican obstructionism—the willful suppression of the US economy, the resolve to maintain a dire unemployment rate, no matter how many lives it shatters—all support the main plank of the GOP platform. As party boss Rush Limbaugh declared, they want Obama (and by extension the other 300 million of us) to fail. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed, the party’s prime objective is to make Obama a one-term president.

But liberals and center-leftish moderates would argue that it didn’t have to be that way. That Obama yielded the national narrative to the Right. That instead of pursuing a robust progressive agenda of job creation and growth, he got sucked into a job-killing (to borrow the GOP’s favorite Homeric epithet) deficit-cutting obsession (and perhaps wasted his first year on Health Care Reform). And that in a quixotic quest to preserve the Obama Brand (“there are no red states, no blue states, only the United States…”)—as well as POTUS’ innately non-confrontational nature and a kind of fetish for compromise—he has repeatedly capitulated.

Or, to use the preferred term, “caved.”  On the public option, on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, on the debt ceiling, and just today, on anti-smog regulations. Even on “Speechgate,” the flap (or was it a kerfuffle?) with House Speaker Boehner over next week’s Jobs, Jobs, Jobs address to Congress (minus wingnut Tea Party Rep.—and deadbeat dad—Joe Walsh).

At worst, some liberals compare the President to that iconic appeaser, Neville Chamberlain. They’re the most extreme faction. But many less strident critics on the Exasperated Left say that, in an obsession with the political center, Obama has forsaken the core values of his party. And that he’s losing the center anyway—that Adult In the Room bit only goes so far. Moderates like strong leaders, too.

Lately, Obama has received a healthy helping of tough love from the African-American community—wherein unemployment is nearly double the 9.1 national rate, and nearly quadruple the national figure among young adults. Rep. Maxine Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus, and non-politicians like Princeton professor Cornel West and Tavis Smiley have been particularly vocal. Indeed, on Tavis’ show last night the host got into a civilized, but spirited, debate with Prof. Randall Kennedy of Harvard over Obama’s “Black Problem.”

Tavis argues that the President seems to be running away from African-Americans—for instance, on his recent Midwest “listening tour,” when he did all his listening in white neighborhoods— and from the progressive agenda that, skin color aside, fired up an unprecedented African-American turnout in 2008 (if you think it was just a Black thing, and not ideological, see Cain, Herman, West, Allen, et. al.)

Prof. Kennedy countered that, while he, too, is sometimes disappointed in Obama, one must never forget that he is “an electoral politician.” Democrats always lose the white vote—as did Obama in 2008, though he fared better than John Kerry did in 2004. The more the first black president is identified as “The Black President,” the longer his odds of reelection, especially in this bleak economy.

In short, faced with an extravagantly funded Right-Wing hate machine that, despite his mild manner and moderate policies, repeatedly portrays him as a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Anti-American Manchurian Candidate Other—Obama has to be careful. He has to walk a fine line. He has to be Jackie Robinson in his early years with the Dodgers, absorbing all the slings and arrows (and beanballs and spikings) and turning the other cheek.

But eventually, Branch Rickey unleashed Robinson—and the great second baseman’s naturally fiery, combative temperament, flying fists, flashing spikes and all. Anyone who played major league baseball during the 1950s will attest that Number 42 took no shit from anyone.

Obama, while intensely competitive, (ask Hillary Clinton; or, for that matter, Osama bin Laden) isn’t likely to challenge Eric Cantor to fisticuffs under the Capitol dome next week.  And, if we recall, that cool, temperate mien—contrasting with McCain’s post-traumatic anger issues—is one of the reasons we elected him.

But we also elected him to act, and to fight—in his way—for Democratic values, for the middle class, for workers, for the environment. No, direct confrontation isn’t Obama’s style. But is it also possible that he’s holding back, even subconsciously, because of his race?

Specifically, has such race-based restraint done more than mute further Obama’s constitutionally cool public demeanor? Does it carry over to the negotiating table—and, above all, to his policies? Has pulling his punches meant not only refraining from “losing it” on the GOP—but from aggressively pursuing the principles he and his much maligned “base” believe to be right? And, in the process, giving away the store, essentially governing as what, in saner times, used to pass for a Republican

While under Branch Rickey’s gag order, Jackie Robinson channeled his suppressed rage into his work, his .300 hitting, superb fielding and thrilling exploits on the basepaths. The President too, has many accomplishments to boast (see the wonderful web site wtfhasobamadonesofar.com).

But at this crucial juncture, with the nation’s economic and social future hanging in the balance—and the looming threat of a far Right GOP that, (perhaps in the nightmare-inducing person of Rick Perry) strives to undo the 20th Century and take us back to circa 1893—maybe it’s time for Barack Obama to start flashing his spikes.

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, March 4, 1933

The economy is a steaming hot mess, God knows, and maybe the cause of our joblessness crisis is some mix of Bush administration policies, GOP obstructionism to sabotage Barack Obama and the Obama administration’s own miscalculations and reticence. Or three decades of trickle-down economics, or automation, or outsourcing or corporate greed and corruption, or all of that and more, but…

One can argue ad nauseum about what got us here and what’s keeping us here. But there is another factor at work—no doubt secondary to concrete policies, legislation, economic theory and business practice. And yet a factor nonetheless:


No, I’m not saying it’s all in our heads. But some measure of the economy does seem to depend on psychological and emotional issues. Optimism, pessimism, hope and fear help drive consumer and business confidence, hiring and firing, the stock market, et. al. The news right now is bleak—indeed if you watch cable, or read print and blog editorials on all sides of the political spectrum, the prevailing view is not only that our recovery is stalled—or, in Paul Krugman’s view, that it never really began—but that the future is all but hopeless.

The jobs aren’t coming back . Government is broken. The debt deal screwed us royally.  Obama still hasn’t “pivoted” and even if he does, he’s helpless against gridlock and an opposition determined to prevent him from achieving victories of any kind. This inertia will continue if Obama wins reelection, and if he doesn’t, the Teabag-dipped GOP actually will drive us off the cliff, or ensure continued prosperity for the wealthy on the backs of a vast underclass—while wiping out the middle class entirely.

We have descended from Woody Allen’s “miserable” into the “horrible.” Our economy should be in a hospice.

All of this may be true. Or perhaps only part of it—these are predictions, after all, and we’ve certainly seen how off-the-mark those can be. But meanwhile, we have sunk into utter despair.

My question is, how much of this psychology of gloom and futility is self-reinforcing and self-fulfilling—however slightly? How much is the “narrative”—to use a pet pundit phrase—of hopelessness and despair helping to engender even more hopelessness and despair?

I’m no Polyanna—my wife can tell you that—and I am inclined to anxiety and pessimism. We know how bad the economy is. (Personally, I’ve lost one job to downsizing—even though my employer was raking in huge profits—and was lucky to find another.) We see businesses closing around us and we’re plenty scared. Our fears are not “nameless, unreasoning and unjustified.” But to hear our punditocracy, we might as well take a black capsule.

Of course, journalists should—at least outside Fox News—report the truth. The latest employment figures indicate 117,000 jobs added and that the jobless rate ticked down a point to 9.1. As we’re told, it’s still lousy, but not as godawful as last month and not as cataclysmic as feared.

But I wonder what would have happened if, say, the Labor Dept. had lied its ass off and cooked the numbers—some say it does already, but I mean, think really big.  What if we’d been told the economy added 317,000 jobs and that unemployment dipped to 8.7—and a similar lie next month and the next?

Would people start feeling better—I mean, the people who do have relatively safe jobs and some income to spend? Would pundits start harrumphing about a recovery revival—and help inspire just a bit more confidence among consumers and businesses? We’ve seen how some of our flat-earth friends on the far Right, talk radio and Fox invent their own facts, rewrite history to serve their ideological narrative.

What if we rewrote the present? The Big Lie used not for hate-and-fear-mongering—but as the long-awaited Second Stimulus?

Before Bellevue sends an ambulance for me, know that I’m kidding.

Okay, maybe half-kidding.

Today’s stock market dive was about more than our miserable debt deal, and more than our own economic inertia–it’s not always all about us. There’s, like, Europe and Asia, for instance.

But it is another indication that the GOP’s strategy to destroy a charismatic, brilliant–for whatever missteps he’s made–incumbent president is working, in the words of Dick Cheney, big-time. Indeed, it is the Republicans’ only strategy, given their lame group of wannabes–ranging from the smarmy, job-killing Romney, to utter wingnut, flat-earth lunacy.

That’s the plan— stall the recovery and maintain the high jobless rate. If the rate even approaches 8 percent, or shows some kind of steady downward trend, the GOP is (white) toast. And Mitch McConnell‘s prime objective, a one-term Obama, is hopeless.

To be sure, the President has admitted that he  underestimated the depth and severity of the Bush Recession. In retrospect, it seems to have been a grave error to spend his entire first year in office—and most of his political capital—wrangling over Health Care Reform, instead of working to stimulate more job growth. Perhaps out an inherently non-confrontational nature, perhaps out of an obsession with courting moderate, swing voters he has often seemed to govern on the Republicans’ turf—this after the 2008 election resoundingly rejected GOP policies.

Nevertheless, President Obama and the Democrats have proposed numerous jobs initiatives, some of which Republicans themselves have endorsed in the past. Of course they’ve all been stalled, blocked by GOP filibusters in the Senate, or squashed under the Boehner-Teabaggers in the House.

And the GOP jobs bills? Well, there aren’t any, of course. Republicans know the President owns the economy, and regardless of whose ideas improve it, POTUS gets credit–or blame if it goes south. So why help Barack Obama out–even if it meant an end to suffering, fear and deprivation?

In this time of obscene income inequality, the wealthy are raking it in and sitting on their money, or investing overseas. Corporations, meanwhile, are making the most out of fewer employees, working them longer hours, making them do the jobs of two people and either cutting salaries or keeping them flat. You’re lucky if you have a job, goes the philosophy, so don’t complain or it’s the highway for you. And with the decline of unions, there’s no advocate for fair treatment.

Where are the jobs? Well, they’re either being shipped overseas, or they’re simply not coming back for the reasons I list above–if you’re making a profit by overworking fewer employees, why rock the boat?

Oh, we might see an expansion of employment if we had more consumer demand by the middle and working class. But the Catch-22 of flat wages or joblessness precludes that.

I’m no economist, and our problems are far more complex than all that. But so far, GOP, Mission Accomplished

Now comes the summer recess for Congress, which means it’s Town Hall time. And, my friends, I have a request. If you have a GOP representative, I want you to stand up, look him or her straight in the eye and ask:

If you were told you could blink your eyes and cut the jobless rate to 4 percent would you do so—if you were also told it would ensure the reelection of President Obama?


The punditocracy, with few exceptions, refuses to state the obvious—one assumes out of a desire to remain “fair and balanced:” The LAST thing the GOP wants to do is create jobs. The Republicans’ number one goal, voiced by Mitch McConnell himself,  is to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Presidents own the economy—can you name Hoover or FDR’s House Speaker or Senate leader? And that means that lowering the jobless rate—regardless of whose philosophy gets us there—means a second term Obama

End of story.

And yet, it can’t be repeated too often. For all their “Where are the jobs?” bullshit, the GOP strategy is to tank the economy, and keep unemployment high. The debt ceiling hostage drama, and the job-killing, economy-draining agreement that ended it, is only the latest in a long line of stunts and maneuvers. Yes, there are many who have an ideological agenda, starving the government and turning us into the United States of AynRandia. But the immediate political goal is 1)to block anything and everything Obama and the Democrats propose, then blame them for not passing it; 2) for the GOP propose no job initiatives of its own, preferring to focus on eviscerating women’s rights, suppress voting, kill unions, and defund Planned Parenthood and NPR.

The Democratic bills stalled thus far include breaks for small businesses and spending on infrastructure, among others. Meanwhile, the GOP has passed legislation that would eliminate millions of jobs.

Read the following, from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s blog, The Gavel. It was posted on July 23, the 200th day of the Boehner-Teabagger Era. Note that this was before the debt ceiling deal/debacle.

200: Number of days GOP has been in charge (Saturday, July 23, 2011)


2 Million: Jobs potentially destroyed by GOP legislation that’s passed the House


0: GOP jobs bills


10: GOP votes against Democratic jobs bills


House Republicans have passed bills that destroy nearly 2 million jobs and create economic uncertainty:

HR 1 – The House-passed GOP ‘So Be It’ spending bill destroys 700,000 jobs, stalls our economic recovery, and protects subsidies for Big Oil.


HR 2 – The GOP Patients’ Rights Repeal bill puts insurance companies back in charge and repeals the Affordable Care Act, thereby destroying more than 300,000 jobs.


Republican Budget (H.Con.Res. 34) – On top of ending Medicare as we know it to pay for tax breaks for Big Oil, millionaires and corporations shipping jobs overseas, the Republican-passed budget cuts key investment to our economic future like education, college aid, life-saving medical research, infrastructure, and clean energy.  This will cost Americans 1.7 million jobs by 2014, with 900,000 jobs lost next year, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. 


Second Vote on GOP Budget — House Republicans doubled down on ending Medicare by passing a Rule on the Homeland Security Appropriations bill which “deems” that the Republican budget, with its cuts in Medicare and investment in our economic future is passed. House Democrats unanimously opposed the Rule.


Third Vote on GOP Budget/Cut, Cap, and End Medicare (H.R. 2560) — Just this week, the House passed a measure that incorporates the House GOP Budget Plan that ends Medicare and destroys jobs, and then calls for deeper cuts with a constitutional amendment.   Republicans even rejected a Democratic effort to prohibit any provision in the bill from going into effect if it would result in the loss of jobs or slow economic growth, but Republicans voted NO.


HR 658 — The House Republican FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act will destroy 70,000 jobs, undermine our nation’s infrastructure, and jeopardize runway safety and improvements.


In addition, Republicans have also unveiled a proposal to slash critical investments in rebuilding our roads, transit, and bridges in this county that will cost us more than 600,000 jobs.


Meanwhile, House Democrats have been working on our Make It in America Agenda to revitalize manufacturing in America, create new good-paying jobs, and make our nation more secure. Republicans have rejected Democratic efforts to create jobs, voting 10 times against Democratic proposals or efforts to consider proposals–several of which are bipartisan–to create jobs:


An American jobs effort to end government contracts rewarding corporations that ship American jobs overseas.  [Vote 19]


Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act – leveraging public dollars to strengthen the private sector, growing our economy by rebuilding America’s schools, hospitals, and transit projects, supported by American businesses, the construction industry, mayors and governors. [Vote 38, Vote 30, Vote 189


American Jobs Matter Act – to give preference in federal contracts to U.S. manufacturers that create jobs here at home. [Vote 257]


National Manufacturing Strategy Act, which calls on the President to lay out a plan to help ensure American manufacturers can compete, grow, and thrive. [Vote 279]


Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Technology Act to help ensure the cars of the future are built here in the U.S., by investing in a broad range of near-term and long-term vehicle technologies to improve fuel efficiency, support domestic research and manufacturing, and lead to greater consumer choice of vehicle technologies and fuels. [Vote 310]


Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act to provide our government with effective tools to address unfair currency manipulation by countries like China, which could help create 1 million American manufacturing jobs by leveling the international playing field for American workers and businesses. [Vote 9, Vote 199]   Recently, Democrats launched a process to force the Republican leadership to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor for an up or down vote.


A measure to promote jobs and innovation at home, by prioritizing patent applications from entities that pledge to develop or manufacture their products and technologies in the United States. [Vote 490]


Leader Pelosi on 200 days:

“Tomorrow is the 200th day of the Republican majority, and the American people are asking: where is the Republican jobs plan? Since taking over the House, Republicans have voted against Democratic jobs legislation ten times and for measures that would potentially destroy 2 million jobs.

Republicans have spent 200 days ignoring jobs and pushing an ideological agenda to end Medicare and protect tax breaks for special interests, Big Oil, and corporations that ship American jobs overseas.

It’s time for Republicans to join Democrats to focus on Americans’ top priority – jobs – while responsibly reducing the deficit, strengthening the middle class, protecting our seniors and growing our economy.”