Political Blog

Waking Up Wall Street, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mob

In times of extreme stress a lot of people either find God or a shotgun. I found New York.

This August I became a statistic. Like people across America every day, I lost my job. I’d written for the Dallas entertainment newspaper, Quick, for two years, and it evaporated almost over night.

Company budget cuts, plain and simple. I am the 99%, awesome.

Losing a job isn’t news, especially today, but as my first “real job” after college, this series of events brought about your standard existential career crisis. Plus, telling my story this way is a lot more postmodern, and thus trendy, so just roll with me.

After shedding my grief and selling my car, I moved to Brooklyn three weeks later. Don’t bother reading profiles on the Dickensian plight of Gen Y — this is what it really looks like. I’m still unemployed, wading through the muck. Albeit, while texting.

The public discourse has been so saturated these last eight months in New York, and abroad, with the Occupy Wall St. movement that whether you’re grabbing a Yuengling in Clinton Hill, or you’re sleeping at your girlfriend’s Financial District apartment, it’s been impossible to ignore. It could be a bartender waxing nostalgic about her old protest days, or a 4 AM serenade of chanting protestors marching down Wall St. long past the media’s bedtime. You will be woken up.

This wake-up call isn’t about politics. It’s about clearing the fog of apathy from our minds, bravely panning the static of the purposely dense financial arena, acknowledging America’s history of class warfare, and our current situation in reference to it.

Whether you’re for or against Occupy Wall St., it’s about stepping back to see how the strings of the machinery are pulled, recognizing that we are all still in a changing political conversation, seeking and forming the meanings of concepts like being rational, and, indeed, even cooperation. Why else would the illusion of change be such a constant in American politics?

Social evolution happens at a glacial pace, and it’s difficult to document meaningfully in real-time, although Urban Outfitters seems to be handling the job aptly enough with its “Die Wall St. Scum” t-shirts.

This is a concept Gen Y is all too aware of.

“Any political analysis that encourages belief in a secure, rational, and cooperative world fails the test of conformity to experience and to the record of history.” – Murray Edelman

Call it cynicism, call it realism, whatever, I’d argue my generation ultimately has simpler, more important goals for the Occupy movement than just “tearing it down, man.”

The laziest, most coddled, most privileged cult of youth yet, we’re only coming of age now. Still finding our ways professionally, hiking switchback through brush, just fighting to have our voices heard, period. We were raised on the excesses of the ’80s and ’90s and were thrown into the shark tank of economic decline fresh out of high school. At this point, our most important, if not obvious, concern is nothing more than to be of use.

Suddenly, being a cog in the grand machine — whatever that machine is — is more appealing than chasing the unique lil’ snowflake dreams our parents whispered to us in our sleep. We just want acknowledgement from the herd. To be heard.

I’ve had jobs fly me to Beverly Hills for movie junkets, set up per diems, and let me interview rock stars, and I’ve also had to send out my resume daily for the past eight months. Like many of my generation, I’m just happy to have a chair at the table, even if it is missing a leg. Because, like my 89-year-old grandfather, who lived through the Depression, likes to remind me, there will be plenty of times in the future where there won’t be any seats at all.

This shouldn’t depress us, or widen the chasm between left and right. It should draw attention to the fluid nature of this conversation, and the malleability of our future as a country. Of course history repeats itself — at least more and more of us are realizing that we’ve been sitting on the remote this whole time.

 
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Article by Cole Hill
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Political Blog

NOW HIRING: SAVIOR FOR THE GOP

The 2012 presidential election is underway as the primary season narrows down the Republican candidates to the one that will face President Obama. It’s safe to say that Obama will face Mitt Romney, even though Romney — who was dubbed the frontrunner only months ago — is having a rough primary race with Rick Santorum, his biggest threat. Half a year ago, the nomination was open to as many as 10 different candidates. With the fight for the nomination now narrowed down to four candidates, with two clear frontrunners, the race, as intense and hot as it could be, is getting old. 2016 is the race for Republicans. Republicans, with these candidates, should very much be open for a loss. But the day after the election, they should start working on their perfect candidate who will run in 2016 when the field is open and the coast is clear.

2016 is expected to be a non-incumbent race, with an open field of Republicans and Democrats, as Obama is expected to win a second term in 2012. The problem is that the current GOP candidates are not running inspirational and original campaigns, like the one Obama ran in 2008. Romney, Gingrich and Santorum are just running a usual boring conservative anti-Obama campaign. Paul is pretty much doing what he did in 2008, with nothing new. These campaigns do not touch Americans, or make them feel proud or inspired in any way. The GOP field this time around is actually quite boring.

2010 was an important and significant year for GOP presidential politics. Even though there was no presidential election that year, the midterm elections conceived young rising Republican stars, whose meteoritic rise promises them already a potential candidacy for president one day. 2012 was too early for these starts to run, which makes 2016 a great rebound for Republicans, if and when they don’t win the White House in 2012. I’m sure that the GOP is already marking those candidates, some of which got into the national political spotlight even before 2010. I personally cannot see a situation where Romney beats Obama. And if Romney can’t beat Obama, Santorum and Gingrich can’t. This is the reason that 2016, where the field is way open, is what the GOP should start working on the day after the 2012 election.

Today in America, being white and male just might not work if you want to run for President and win. After 230 years, Americans got it. Now, they understand that it’s time to change a bit, little by little. Obama did it in 2008, and the GOP wants their chance as well. They’ve missed it in 2012, and now, 2016 is their perfect chance. There are few Republicans that can be named rising starts for their colossal rise. They are Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American representing Florida, a battleground state in the Unites States Senate, and Nikki Haley, an Indian-American woman who is the governor of South Carolina, Chris Cristie, the tough, out-spoken governor of New Jersey, Susana Martinez, the Latina governor of New Mexico, Bob McDonell, the governor of Virginia, another battleground state, and Kristi Noem, the young, good-looking Representative from South Dakota, whose already landed herself a key leadership role in the republican majority. All those politicians above, were elected in the 2009-2010 election cycle, and they all can run for president for their background, gender, or importance of state that they govern or represent.

There are more rising stars that were not elected in 2010 such as Bobby Jindal, the Indian-American governor of Louisiana, John Thune, the senator from South Dakota, and Paul Ryan, the influential young congressman from Wisconsin. There are many more stars that were elected in 2010, and some that were not. These are just the prominent ones, and I’m sure, that with the scenario of a second term for Obama, about three-quarters of these people above will put their name forward for president. They need time to make more of name for themselves, and 2016 is the perfect timing.

It is logical that the GOP nominee this year will choose a rising star, perhaps one from the class of 2010, but in 2008, we learned, with Governor Palin, that being number two on the ticket might not just be enough to spice up the whole race and bring results. Yes, Palin brought excitement and heat to the race, but in the end, McCain simply did not win. If you one wants a winning ticket, it is not enough to have the running mate be a minority or woman. You need the head of the ticket to be the one who spices up the race, and I’m sure that the GOP, watching Obama in 2008, fully comprehended that. As a result, I do not think that they expect too much to win this race, instead putting their money on 2016, with a candidate that will, for the first time in history, be the GOP nominee that is not a white man.

We all know that the GOP needs a ‘savior’ from the white male stigma that they have. The GOP must show that they appeal to all the different demographics in the population, whether they like it or not. They need to energize their Latino base, as well to appeal to women and young adults. The democrats are doing it well with their different ideas and candidates, but let’s all face it — Romney, Santorum and Gingrich do not appeal to any groups except white middle-aged people. Yes, they will try to energize the base with a minority or woman as a running mate, but as we learned from Palin in 2008, it’s just not enough. Americans want excitement and different voices in their politics, and Republicans, especially in 2012, are just simply not delivering.

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Article By David Issacharoff
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What Really Gets Me, WTF

I see London, I see France, I DO NOT want to see your Underpants

It seems to me that the fashion in this society has been getting increasingly ….well….lower. The other day during my trip to the mall, I noticed that I was looking at a lot of our youth’s undergarments. Like I need to look at anymore assholes than I already do. The best is when these kids are dragging their feet, dragging their pants and they attempt to pull these sheets of pants up to their waists-and to no avail, the pants slide back down again. When did this whole sagging pants thing come into play? What are they trying to say with their pants hanging so far down? Where are the parents to tell their kids they look like stupid shits? I hate this trend, you look like a sloppy trouble maker as far as I am concerned. And the best is when these white upper middle class kids are sagging their pants and hunching over. I can just hear them saying, “yeah man, going to go play on my xbox, fuck homework.”  WOW, scary. So to express my agitation, I am placing this picture below to let parents and “saggers” alike, know, they are very much lame asses.

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Political Blog

OCCUPY FAILED

“Occupy” is a failure and it needn’t have been.

As a longtime supporter of strong public expression by demonstrations, marches and other means on major issues to the nation and the world, I can only conclude the so called “Occupy” movement is nothing more than a failure.

Worse, it is and was a necessary effort that turned into little more than a well publicized nuisance to most places.

I am not only disappointed that this has occurred, but, as with many others, I am offended to a great extent by what this may have done to the demonstration concept elsewhere.

So what is it that has been so counterproductive despite all the hype here and around the world? After all, in most of the so-called “liberal and progressive” media, we are daily treated to the trumpets of the spread of “Occupy”?

Here, in a few nutshells, is what has turned a potentially useful movement into a major combination bore and irritant:

1. No clear message: beyond a lot of yelling, screaming and complaining, hardly any, if any, participants could tell willing media what the message was or is;

2. No leadership: there is no central sense of identifiable leadership, if any, either locally or nationally and certainly not internationally. Result: neither the public nor media already occupied with political campaigns have anywhere to go for the message if one actually exists.

Actually, I raised the possibility of such displays of dissatisfaction some months ago in a column that asked essentially: “Will we now fear parades?” (link:www.huntingtonnews.net/…/100826-honick-columnsparades.html)…the idea growing out of the problems of heavy unemployment, home foreclosures and all the rest of the obvious concerns. My expectation was that someone or some group would do as many have before and produce a coherent message in writing and some accepted and respected leader personalities.

Neither has occurred.

Had either of these efforts been pursued effectively, the situation could have been more productive, perhaps even a major success.

Instead, in many places, crowds supposedly the “Occupy” crowd in each location have wound up leaving public spaces in a mess and causing the local taxpayers to have to clean it up. Along with such events have come conflicts with police and others that have often deteriorated to much damage and personal injury both to demonstrators and law enforcement.

Pardon the repetition, but having marched as a very young man in that historic parade of a million people when MLK made his “Dream speech, we all could see what it was for and how this massive collection of humanity treated the nation’s Capitol respectfully.

When gays and others have similarly demonstrated, the groups knew the value of the impressions they wanted to make and the message they wanted to convey to be successful.

None of this has been the case with the “Occupy” effort. There are those who see my view as cynical. I choose to see it as sadly realistic.

On a potentially positive side, I am told it has galvanized the participation of heretofore apolitical young people to become involved in the political process. But there is little time to see this potential pay-off.

Now that the nation is engulfed in a less than civilized presidential campaign that floods the media and international fiscal and physical conflict of major importance, the likelihood is most people couldn’t care less about moaning, groaning crowds who came too late to the party and without identities that could be deciphered.

As the nation and the world stand incoherently on the brink of still newer potential wars and major political debates, fewer and fewer of those who could have helped will pay much attention.

That reality is both realistic and costly to any movement that might have made a real difference.

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Article By  JOSEPH J. HONICK
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Political Blog

Mitt is like Meatloaf

Mitt Romney, like Meatloaf, would do many things for love. But he won’t do that.

“That,” in this case, being “set my hair on fire.”

Philip Rucker reported:

“It’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments,” Romney told reporters. “We’ve seen throughout the campaign that if you’re willing to say really outrageous things that are accusatory and attacking President Obama that you’re going to jump up in the polls. You know, I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am.”

A few minutes later, when a reporter brought up Romney’s comment about lighting his hair on fire, the well-coiffed candidate interjected: “I’m not going to do it. I don’t care how hard you ask. It would be a big fire, I assure you.”

This is the only right position.

Throughout the campaign, Mitt Romney has been consistent on one point: the quality and consistency of his hair care.

He was ruffled in debates, but his hair, never. He could be flat and lifeless. Never so his follicles. Mitt Romney’s hair, as Mitt would be the first to tell you, is his better half. There’s a reason his wife nicknamedhis plane “Hair Force One.” Mitt knows where he stands in the scheme of things — beneath a head of luxuriant locks.

Their wave was more natural than his was. Listen to Mitt roar? Hang on, I’m distracted by the mane. Romney’s hair flips but it never flops. When people say that Mitt Romney “seems presidential,” this is what they mean. Any man whose hair looks like that is doing something very right. There’s a picture of Mitt Romney in the dictionary next to the word “majestic” with an arrow pointing specifically at his coiffure.

Mitt was wise to ignore the advice of his barber to try to mix things up a bit. One doesn’t mess with perfection, even if that perfection is dependent on Brylcreme, a product that has to be imported specially from the 1950s.

Since Jon “Emerging From a Rolls Royce In The 1920s For A Catalogue Shoot” Huntsman’s departure from the race, Mitt Romney is indisputably the best-coiffed individual running for president. Sure, Newt Gingrich has his moments. Compared to Mitt’s ‘do, Santorum’s looks discouraged and monotone. It lies there, lumpy and lifeless. But even an endorsement from Donald Trump’s Horrible Ham Loaf couldn’t cut into Mitt’s stride. I am reassured by Romney’s remarks to know that his distinctive mane will be with us for months to come.

Mark my words, if he wins Michigan, it’ll be by the hair.

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Article By Alexandra Petri

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It’s time to make the Republican Party “elite” go away

The assorted rabble of RINOs, insiders, and power-brokers who make up the self-styled GOP “elite” appear to be starting to panic. As it becomes less and less obvious that Mitt Romney is a sure thing to win the much-ballyhooed Michigan primary (which was once assumed to be a done deal for him), his handlers and other string-pullers within the Republican establishment seems to be looking for someone new, yet another establishment-style candidate who can be called upon to squash the incipient grassroots rebellion and retain the nomination firmly for a malleable, mushy-middle type with whom the country-club crowd can feel at ease, and for whom the conservative base of the Party will be stuck voting, against their wishes once again. Or so it would seem from this article appearing in Mediaite, citing an unnamed “top Republican Senator” saying that he will “publicly call for Jeb Bush” to step into the race and save the day for the RINOs should Romney flame out and lose Michigan to Rick Santorum’s resurgent campaign.

How very typical of them. Instead of simply accepting the choice of the actual primary voters, who have consistently rejected Romney (who has only won an outright majority in a single race so far, Mormon-heavy Nevada), whoever this might end up being, the establishment insiders are already weighing plans to circumvent the will of the Republican rank-and-file and anoint another insider replacement who has not received a single vote from a Republican primary voter this season, and who is viewed as repugnant by large swathes of this same voter base. Of course, the GOP “elite” has consistently and desperately done all in its power to avoid having a real conservative possibly win the nomination this year.

It is well-known that after 2008, Romney’s operatives played a large role in the demonization of Sarah Palin, working to defame and ridicule her to the point where she would be radioactive to the majority in a shallow, superficial electorate. The reason? Prevent her from being a serious rival for the nomination that Romney had been running for nonstop since 2006. In this, Romney’s people had the open and willing collusion of so-called “conservative” establishment types, folks more concerned about keeping the inner circle closed than in actually appealing to the unwashed masses of conservative voters, both inside and outside the Republican Party. And this year, so it went with other conservative candidates, who each in turn found themselves the target of vicious attack ads from insider-funded PACs, personal smears, lies and inventions, and all the rest of the arsenal of dirty, personal destruction politics as they rose to the top of heap and polled better than the establishment good-boy Mitt Romney. Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich — all received “the treatment.” They’ve tried to give it to Rick Santorum, but have been unsuccessful so far in making it really stick.

Hence, the panic at what do about the possibility that these idiot voters might pick somebody else over Romney. “If they won’t go along with Romney, then we’ll just have to pick somebody else for them!” seems to be the mentality. This is perhaps exemplified best by a statement from the very first paragraph in the Mediaite article, quoting ABC’s Jonathan Karl interview with the unnamed “top Republican Senator,”

“Karl reports that a ‘prominent Republican senator’ told him that the Party will not stand for a Mitt Romney loss in Michigan, and that he expects a result like that to lead the Senator to ‘publicly call for the party to find a new candidate,’ likely former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.” [emphasis added]

And here I thought that the whole point to having primaries was for the voters — the rank and file of the actual Party — to pick their own choice to represent them on the ticket in November.

This unnamed Senator’s statement simply illustrates exactly what is wrong with the modern Republican Party.

The “Party” apparently no longer consists of the actual registered members of the Republican Party. The “Party” is no longer the grassroots activists and rank-and-file constituents who do all the things that actually make party politics tick at the local level, things like donating money and time, making the phone calls, knocking on doors, coordinating at precinct and county-level meetings, and the like. The “Party” seemingly doesn’t even consist of itsactual primary voters anymore.

The “Party” is now a small, incestuous group of out-of-touch, country-clubber RINO insiders, power-brokers, politicos, and bagmen who have collectively spent more time inside the beltway than man has been on this earth.

The “Party” doesn’t give a hoot about what the actual members — the people who provide it with its power base of support, volunteer workers, and the like — think about anything. If we toothless hillbillies look to be choosing the wrong candidate, then the super-smart, super-sophisticated establishment elite who know better than we do needs to step in and save us from ourselves.

Don Feder has an excellent article out today in which he details this exact attitude on the part of what he calls the “Wall Street conservatives” — the sort of “conservatives” who want to shuttle social conservatives off to a tiny little corner in the back of the bus where they can then feel free to shut up and enjoy the hum of the engine as the establishment drives it over the cliff.

Feder’s article makes many excellent points, among them the most important is the simple fact that social conservatism (you know, the kind that the “elite” finds most repugnant) is the integral glue that holds conservatism together. At least it was so for Ronald Reagan, as he notes, despite the recent attempts at revisionism. It has always amazed me how unable to simply learn from history many of these “fiscal issues only” types really are. How soon they forget that back in 2008, while the rest of the Republican coalition was going down in flames all over the country, social conservatism was winning votes on issues ranging from banning homosexual “marriage” and adoption to limiting abortion to ending affirmative action, even in Blue states. Thirty states have voted to define marriage between one man and one woman; how many states have voted in balanced budget amendments?

Ultimately, the disconnect comes from the fact that, when you get right down to it, the “conservative” inside-the-beltway elite differs little from the leftists on social issues — and yes, I am talking about people like Ann Coulter, for instance. They’re happy to mouth a few platitudes to us rubes and hayseeds when it comes time to rally up some votes for their RINO candidate or to sell a few books. However, they’re just as supportive of special rights for homosexuals or forcing religious organizations to pay for abortiofacients as any Democrat. On these, therefore, they are at odds with the majority of people in the country, and the vast majority of people within their own Party. The establishment “elite” has set itself against its own base, knowingly and willfully, in an act that can only indicate an overt desire to force itself off onto the conservative majority within the GOP. If we don’t like it, then we can lump it.

What is the solution to this? It is for conservatives to once again make our politics demotic — a word which simple means “of the people.” It is time for conservatives to step up and either remove the “elite” from power, or else break their little Party and replace it with another one. If the establishment elite is so keen on holding onto its white-knuckled grip on power within the Republican Party, then perhaps its time to replace the Republican Party with a truly popular, broad-based Party that represents the views and desires of the rank-and-file of the working and middle classes and professionals and small business owners of this country who largely share both the fiscal and social values of the conservatives driving the activism of the Tea Parties and allied groups, both within and without the current GOP. Maybe it’s time for conservatives to break the stranglehold and to give all those independents out there who have left the GOP because it became too squishy and “big tent” a Party they can vote for? Perhaps we should get serious about crafting a Party that can win back the Reagan Democrats who want someone to give working class voters a real choice, instead of the condescending, faux “representation” they get from Big Labor Democrats?

If the GOP “elite” won’t accede to the wishes of the conservative majority within the Party, and are intent on using every dirty trick they can to destroy our candidates, then the GOP needs to become just another single-digit third party. Once conservatives can wrap their heads around the concept that we don’t need to vote for any old trash shoveled our way, just because it has an “R” after its name, then we will start to realize that we can begin to exercise the influence that our numbers suggest we should. After all, polls continue to show that self-described conservatives make up the plurality in the United States. Conservatives certainly make up the large majority with the Republican Party. So why do we keep getting snookered by the left-leaning “elite” and handed candidates who are barely palatable to this plurality of voters? Why can’t we break the stranglehold, as Reagan managed to do for eight years (and remember, back then, instead of having “Reagan Day” dinners, the GOP elite hated and tried to undermine him at every turn)? I firmly believe that if given a choice of a candidate who actually, truly represents authentic conservatism, a majority of voters would choose this candidate — even many of the self-described “moderates”out there. Why? Because they did for Reagan in 1980 and 1984, they did so when theythought they were going to get it from Bush I in 1988, they did when they voted for Gingrich and the Contract for America in 1994, and they did it just two years ago in 2010, when they handed Congress back to Tea Party candidates representing fiscal and social conservatism combined inmovement conservatism.

In short, it’s time for conservatives to give the GOP “elite” — the Romneys and Jeb Bushes and Ann Coulters and the rest — an ultimatum: Either get out of the way or get out of the game.

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Article By Tim Dunkin
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President Obama gets good MPG with UAW speech

In the swirl of news coverage focused on the Republican presidential primaries in Michigan and Arizona today, it’s easy to miss the speech that President Obama delivered to a group of United Auto Workers in D.C. today.

But, it was a speech not to be missed — the closest thing we have seen to Obama running at full campaign speed we have seen yet in the 2012 race.

This was Obama at his full-throated best — showing the fight that many Democrats have long, well, longed for. He even said as much: “I’ll promise you this: as long as you’ve got an ounce of fight left in you, I’ll have a ton of fight left in me”.

But it wasn’t just the tone that was worth remembering. It was the subject matter.

For Obama to win a second term, he has to make the case that he not only took on major challenges but also solved at least some of them. While the economy writ large has been improving of late, not even the rosiest Democratic analysts believe that things like the unemployment rate will drop precipitously between now and November.

Given that reality, Obama needs to find smaller success stories that allow him to effectively make a “promises made, promises kept” argument. The recovery of the auto industry is sure to be front and center in that argument from the Administration.

“If we had turned our backs on you; if America had thrown in the towel; GM and Chrysler wouldn’t exist today,” Obama said to huge cheers from the UAW crowd. “I placed my bet on American workers…three years later, the American auto industry is back.”

Promise made, promise kept.

But then Obama sought to broaden out the argument — making the case that what he did for the auto industry is what separates him from the men vying to be the Republican presidential nominee this fall.

Said Obama: “You want to talk about values? Hard work — that’s a value. Looking out for one another — that’s a value. The idea that we are all in it together — that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper — that is a value.”

The argument that Obama is making is that the actions he has taken over the first three years in office are far more consistent with what it means to be an American than anything that the Republican field is proposing. That he better understands the fabric that made America great than any of the Republicans he will face in the fall.

Of the GOP’s “you’re on your own philosophy” (his words), Obama said: “That’s the philosophy that got us into that mess. And we can’t afford to go back”.

In the space of a single speech that spanned just over 2,000 words, Obama summed up the entirety of his re-election message: 1) There have been provable successes because of actions his Administration has taken 2) He better understands what it means to be an American than do Republicans and 3) The Republican philosophy toward government represents a step backwards not a step forward.

And he delivered in a way — rabble-rousing populism — that is a nice fit for the mood in which much of the electorate finds itself. While Obama won’t likely be as forceful with swing voters in Ohio or North Carolina as he was with a friendly union crowd today, the UAW speech seemed to be something of a tone-setter for the campaign to come.

It also should serve as a reminder for Republicans that while Obama has struggled mightily at times at governance, he remains one of the most gifted — if not the most gifted — campaigners in modern politics. Beating him in November will be no easy task.

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Article By Chris Cillizza
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