Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Newsweek Wimp Cover

In a search to sell copies, Newsweek used a cover to wonder about R-money's wimp factor. I suppose we could go online to Merriam-Webster and see what they have to say about wimp: a weak, cowardly, or ineffectual person A couple things occur to me, no one runs for office without a pretty solid ego - they have the idea that they are the person to represent a sizable group of citizens. Another is that in the process of running, you are going to ask people you don't know to approve of you - to take a look at you and choose you above another. In order to do this, you need to be able to point to success in some endeavor, even if it only amounts to making more sense than your opponent. I'm sorry, Newsweek, wimp is the wrong word for any political candidate - even one I loath as much as R-money. If Newsweek had chosen nouns like "liar" or "panderer" I might go right along. This is the behavior of the "deal-maker." It is all about getting the deal done, not about what is objectively true. You don't really imagine that R-money went to banks as he loaded up companies with debt and told them, "we're gonna loot this outfit and leave you and the Fed holding the bag for it." Nope, they told banks they were all about turning a profit. (whose profit?) Now they sure couldn't get a bank to go along with loans if all they did was to leave banks holding the bag - it just didn't matter to them. This is how you get R-money directly contradicting virtually every position he's ever held. This is how you get R-money using video clips that are directly in opposition to what the entire clip says as an opposition ad. It doesn't matter that it is a lie, it matters that it panders to a deluded group that will vote for you. When it gets tough, because you've pandered to two groups that don't see eye to eye, you simply deny doing it to the less important one - even if you have to turn around the next day and deny it to them. It doesn't matter because the deal needs to be done. (deal = I'm President) If you live by the deal, you essentially become a sociopath. Morality or ethics is beside the point of the deal. Where the absolute edge of the letter of the law is matters - so you can stay out of jail and still do deals. If you have enough R-money you can pay good lawyers to keep you on the crumbling edge. If you have enough R-money you can pay accountants to keep you right on that raggedy edge with taxes, you sure don't want to show the rubes how it's done, that's R-money magic, not to be spoiled by showing what's behind the curtain. R-money's problem at this juncture is that a whole bunch of people in the deal think he stinks and that bunch isn't going to change their minds no matter what gymnastics he performs (or dressage if you prefer). You can just bet that a whole bunch of people in the Bain acquisitions knew they were going to get hosed - they just didn't have the R-money or influence to affect the outcome. This time around R-money is banking on that being the case, but he's up against some pretty savvy players with some good financing of their own. This means the lies and panders have to get a lot bigger than you could get away with in the legal structure of the deal where law enforcement (lax as it is) could get involved. Keep in mind, lying is protected political speech. That doesn't mean that even in the sociopath's milieu of the R-money deal that R-money has a lot of practice at whoppers this size and it keeps getting him into trouble. (there is also the little detail that in that sociopath R-money world of his there were his kind to be pandered to and "you people" who were simply told how it was going to be.) The wimp thing is mistaking Limbaughism for courage and conviction and being effectual. It uses a GOP delusion that talking big replaces thinking and acting big. R-money has all the charisma of a dog turd and sounds stupid when he tries to hard-ass and worse when he whines but that is neither cowardice or weakness. As for being ineffectual, the guy buried his Primary opponents - it may have been the Clown Posse, but he flat out destroyed them. Yes, he R-money bombed them. Money is a tool, also, and he wielded it effectively. As for effectual against Obama, that remains to be seen come election day, but I will flat out guarantee he gets at least 45% of the vote and that ain't cottage cheese. It isn't a good idea to bet against the abject stupidity of a majority of the electorate, but R-money does have to bet on it, a different thing. He's packed his economic and foreign policy teams with BushCo operatives and yet Bush/Cheney get to stay away from the Convention. The big bully from NJ gets a big speaking role because he is a bully but he'll stay on script and the Snowbilly from AK gets to stay away because even though she'll speak to the heart of the faithful she's a loose cannon and yes, those faithful would choke on NJ's actual politics.

Maybe this country has degenerated to a point where The Deal, with its attendant lying and pandering is all that matters.  I don't know, it's a tough bet when you consider what led up to the '07-8 crash, horrid recovery, and the behavior of those who won out of that Deal.  People may remember the bill of goods they were sold in the process of that Deal. 

Well Shitt Mitt

All Multiple Mitt had to do was take the R-money Tour across some water, keep its mouth shut, and look pretty shaking hands.  That was all R-money had to do (in regard to our money... well read Bain history).  It is true that those Brits are all tight-laced and slow to take offense ... or maybe not ... and Mitt's understanding of our common Anglo-Saxon thingies might be a bit lacking and well... oops.

Look, maybe Mitt should be a bit nonplussed that those Brits were so easily offended - though they did let him slide on the matter of Winnie's bust still being happily ensconced in the White House rather than sulking in England - but nobody has accused those Middle Easterners of being, well, understated.  These people fling rocks, bullets, rockets, bombs at the least offense so a bit of caution is always well-played.  Except from some really privileged silver spoon in the butt pander boy.  There is more than one Party in Israel and they tend to swap around leadership so playing nice with both is a good idea unless you're pandering to, oh say Bibi.  Since the Palestinians don't have any money and everybody knows about Jews and all their money it would be just fine to insult the Palestinian culture as the cause of their poverty in comparison to Israelis - no donors there.  Since the US has wound down one war in the area and working on it with the other, it may be time to start another one - you know, assure Israel that if they'd like to start one with Iran we'd be happy to tag along.  The place is one giant pool of gasoline and this putz is playing with matches...  I'm real sure the Teabaggery crowd is going to be pretty pleased to hear R-money's love song to the Israeli Socialized Medicine scheme. Sometimes it's just so hard to pander to two at the same time. It is probably a good thing those dead retroactive Mormon Jews couldn't complain. I'm not sure, is retroactive a Mitt thing or a Mormon thing? Maybe both?

I guess we'll see how Poland plays out, he can probably manage to avoid jokes about lightbulbs, but maybe he'll 'retroactivate' The Soviet Union, again. Maybe he'll make it a point to insult Unions... that'd work well. Lessee now, Teabaggers and Unions versus Pollock Unions... how to pander to two?

Do you suppose he can just pull a Bain CEO and retroactively stay home?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Loss Of Your Child

In the wake of the Aurora shootings something has to have been in people's consciousness and that is what it means to lose a child. Anyone who has a child and listens to the news or reads papers or is (essentially) conscious knows that people do lose their children - to accidents, wars, murder, suicide, and other causes. It isn't a difficult intellectual exercise to understand that parents lose children. Yes, as a parent you worry sometimes - will they drive safely, is the park safe, will things just work out alright? Really though, it is something that happens to other people - them, not us. In the right world our kids will out last us.

Then it happens, your child is dead. Your world has gone off its tracks, it has ceased to make sense. I don't think the cause makes much difference, the parents of a combat soldier might have more reason to think it could happen, but even there - it is what happens to others, not us. They were babies, they were kids, they went to school, maybe they got married and they were going to carry on for us. We loved them, even when they made it difficult we still did. No one was more yours than your child and now for some emotionally unfathomable reason they are no more and there is not a single thing you can do. Gone. But they ride around with you, there are so many memories and because that child was so tightly entwined with your life those memories are intense. The memories of the child don't fade and the one that you could wish would go is seared in - the moment you found out.

You belong to an exclusive club that no one would want to join and you're the ones that know. However deep your empathy you cannot get there unless you're a member, you don't know and you shouldn't know. All that is left for the members is to deal with it however they can. It will not go away, dealing with it is a constant, maybe not every moment but it is always there. A stray word or image or just someone asking how many kids you have kicks it in gear. Bang, front and center is the issue. A person asked how many kids and you said two but one is dead and now you need to assuage their worry they've hurt you... It just doesn't stop, there is always something and it is complicated and...

Well, I can't make you understand and I hope you never do. Feel for the people who've lost but don't think you can understand and it's alright that you can't. If you've been here with that sort of loss, I hope I've expressed this fairly well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Is "Good" Income ?

Currently wage and salary income up to $110,000 per year is SS/FICA taxed at a total rate of 10.4% down 4.2% from the previous rate. It is true that the employee and employer each pay half, unless you happen to be both (self-employed). Somehow the fact that the employer writes the check seems to mean to some people that it isn't a tax on the worker - the self-employed rate would seem to make that a lie. On the other hand, if you hold, say stocks, for more than a year your tax rate on the capital gains is 15% if your tax bracket is 25% or above and zero below that. Short term (less than a year) gets taxed at your bracket level. Dividends are taxed at your normal tax rate unless you've held the stocks for a specified period previous to the issue. Neither of these types of income is taxed for SS/FICA. So here's the deal, SS/FICA is applied to wages or salary up to $110,000, after that you're out of it and if you don't take a wage or salary you don't pay it at all. It isn't a very complicated matter to make a gadzillion dollars per year and be at the 15% Federal Tax Rate - period. It is important to remember that there are no deductions affecting SS/FICA and the other tax brackets are subject to them. It makes no difference how little wage you take, you are taxed at (currently) 10.4% and then you get to take what ever modifications to your income you can to reduce your income tax bracket. From $8700 to 35,350 your tax bracket is 15%, that is how little you can make to get to the one year capital gains rate - but you're also being taxed at 10.4% so really you're at 25.4%, $0 to 8700 gets you down to the 10% rate which if you toss out the employer contribution on SS/FICA (and make some idjits happy) you're finally close to the capital gains rate. Since the brackets and total SS/FICA rates make it clear that making any wage in a year is taxed at a higher rate than one year + capital gains, one of these kinds of income is less desirable to the nation since, to use Teabaggery rhetoric, one is punished more. You worker bees must only exist because the queen bees get their nectar. This is St Ronnie-ism writ large. The logic is that jobs don't exist without the investor class putting money into the system. That whole thing starts to fall apart when you ask just where it is that the investor class got that money. None of that money just magically appeared, somewhere someone actually worked to generate it, even if you inherited it. Without work there is no money - also, too. (h/t to Sarah) The Teabaggery crowd (plutocratic enablers and plutocrats) would have you believe that we punish success when the actual reality is that we punish work. At $110,000 per year wage you pay an effective rate of 38.4% while if your income is from 1+ year capital gains is $110,000 your rate is 15%. Who the hell is being punished here, the person who goes to work or the person who has enough money to realize a $110,000 profit from selling stock held for a year? None of this discussion relates to deductions or who gets real use from them, and yes, putting deductions in would modify the wage/salary amounts pretty considerably but is too wildly variable to include. Yup, it apparently is socialism/leftism to think work is something like the equal to wealth.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Return Of Etch-A-Sketch

First off let me apologize for a month's absence, and then acting as though I count. Family matters meant a Harley ride to N MI from NE OR and back - 5K miles and time.

There was a bit of a huff when a R-money staffer admitted that they'd re-write the Primary and erase all that rightwing nuttery for the General Election. We were just kidding... well they're not talking about it much. Now that kid's toy is back with some new phrasing - "retroactive retirement." Yes, Mittens turned the SEC upside-down and shook away being CEO, President, etc of Bain after 1999 by retiring after the fact - a couple years after. I'm not sure how it works that in 2000 I signed a document saying I was boss and in 2002 I made that go away by saying, I don't know, "hey presto?" In 2000 it was a fact attested to by a signature and in 2002 it magically went away by signing something else?

The etch a sketch approach means that anything convenient at the time is magically disappeared when it isn't convenient - retroactively. Can he retroactively un-drop a bomb? Can he retroactively abort a rapist's fetus (that would then be a child)? We know the Mormons retroactively mormonize people who might not like it if they had a say... Maybe this Mormon thing needs a bit more thinking about, does this mean that next election my vote can be retroactively GOPed? Facts seem to be pretty mutable if you're a Mittens (GOPer). They'll be pretty sure that (D) mark wasn't what I meant to do or that my birthplace at a major US University really was on foreign ground (liberal?).

I suppose that the question is going to be, "does it matter to the voters?"

A Close Election?

You may have noticed that the election between Pres Obama and Multiple Mitt looks close with the House not changing hands and control of the Senate questionable.  The condition of the economy, who set that in motion, and who is winning really ought to make the election less close than the '08 one and you ought to be asking questions about why that is happening and complaining.  You could make a long list of social issue irritants, race issues, and a lot of lying propaganda but that would just be scratching around at the surface.

It is true that a large enough number of American voters are not very bright about politics and vote based on, well, immaterial bullshit.  The thing about that statement is that it only covers a segment that alway has and always will vote that way and are insufficient to largely impact an election.  The GOP calls them their base and the percentages generally seem to hang around 27%.  Yep, GWB's undying lovers.

You have a Democratic base of thirty some percent and that leave somewhere around 40% of the electorate up for grabs - sort of.  These folks aren't a monolithic block, they're all over the political spectrum and a good portion aren't really available as switch voters but that still leaves an election swaying number that are splitting up fairly evenly.  That really shouldn't be the case now and should not have swung to the GOP in '10.  While the GOP is quite good at lying and getting away with it, the blame for this situation lies with the Democrats.

 It is true that the GOP is able to support its plutocratic agenda with its social bullshit, but there is a piece of this that seems to get missed - the record of the Democratic Congress 06-10 is only barely less plutocratic/corporatistic than the GOP.  Just barely.  Yes, quite a bit more minority conscious than the GOP - what this gets down to is that the policies enacted have effect on maybe 1% of the voters, gay soldiers get to serve openly and the very wealthy win and win.

 There is a large group who don't register or seldom vote who will state, "they're just politicians and there's no difference between them."  I'd say "there's no difference" is not accurate as exaggeration - I will not argue that there is not enough difference; I will, in fact, argue that this is the damn problem.  It is not the problem with a fair portion of the Democratic Caucuses, it is the problem with enough to make it the Party's problem.  The GOP seems to have no problem with being the plutocrat's Party and running right as fast as the media legs will let them.  If the Democrats flat out admitted it and bragged about it  - there'd be no Party after the explosion, but a handful of members ensure that it is the result.  This gets you some damned Democrats getting on TV and pouting 'let Bain alooonnnne.'

How in the hell do you expect to convince a lot of American voters that you're on their side when you demonstrate that you're not?  How in the hell has the winning argument been that you have to be more like the GOP to win when it has not been demonstrated by anything other than emotions?