Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Listening to comments after the 2012 Presidential Debate at C-Span, where I viewed the event in live streaming video, I was surprised some phone callers and twitterers were saying they were still undecided about how to cast their ballots.    Perhaps some individuals may only recently have begun to examine all the significant issues. Maybe only now they’re seriously considering the desired direction for this nation in the next four years as election day draws near. 

I think there are profound differences between candidates and political parties.  Anyone viewing all the 2012  debates, including those of the Vice-Presidential candidates, carefully listening to the rhetoric, and fact checking candidates statements in those debates, could acquire sufficient information on which to make an intelligent decision about whether to vote for Democrats President Obama/Biden or Republicans Romney/Ryan, I think.  However, I’ve been a political junkie since I could first vote many years ago, so have been tracking events all along, and there are many other pertinent issues that were not mentioned that voters would be wise to learn about.

In addition to opinions formed from the debates, I would highly recommend consideration also be given to the basic philosophy and values of each candidate's political party.  Long-time straight party ticket voters should keep in mind there have been very significant changes in those two major political parties beliefs and practices from their once traditional positions as I've observed and based on the analysis of some political experts.   Unfortunately, we’re subjected to the detrimental consequences of these changes resulting in a Congress unable to come together to solve our nation’s problems.    Given these political party differences voters would be wise to carefully research the voting record and political beliefs of  current and future Congressional candidates before voting for them, too. 

Both parties used to be composed of conservative, moderate and liberal members so that coalitions across party lines were more easily formed on issues as some political analysts have said.   I would  also compare the composition of both parties in more recent years to have been altered in ways others have  described.

The Democratic Party position on many issues has become more conservative, moderate, and much less liberal than it was for many years.   

The Republican Party has become primarily extremist/ultra-conservative, marginalizing/rejecting their moderate and more liberal thinking members.

A lobbyist who is not even a member of Congress has commandeered the Republican House of Representatives members, holding them hostage to criteria he has dictated.  That’s not my idea of how an effective government of the people is intended to function.

That ultra/extremist Republican group drives their candidates, Romney/Ryan, with the extreme budget proposals (that don’t even balance), while also predicting job creation based on an approach tried before that is known to not work.  Despite generalizing rhetoric about moving our nation forward in today’s world they provide few specifics that compute accurately in dollars and cents/sense.   

I’m also very troubled by candidate Mitt Romneys waffling around about issues as he continues to do since he first began campaigning for his political party’s nomination.  He even denies making previous well-documented pronouncements when he has contradicted them in later statements.    

Here’s an original jazz recording with a title and lyrics most appropriate for candidate Romney’s "Undecided" wishy washy positions:  

“Django Reinhardt et le Quintette du Hot Club de France, avec Stéphane Grappelli Stéphane Grappelli (vln); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Joseph Reinhardt, Eugène Vées, Pierre "Baro" Ferret (g); Emmanuel Soudieux (b); Beryl Davis (vcl)
1939 August 25 – London”

“Undecided” Partial lyrics:
First you say you do
And then you don't
And then you say you will
And then you won't
You're undecided now
So what are you gonna do?
Now you want to play
And then it's no
And when you say you'll stay
That's when you go
You're undecided now
So what are you gonna do?
I've been sitting on a fence
And it doesn't make much sense
'Cause you keep me in suspense
And you know it

Now we know from Mr. Romney’s former company, Bain, that he is able to invest the money of wealthy people to make them even more money – and some for himself, too, (so what if it means collapsing a few companies, sending jobs overseas and/or workers losing jobs.)   Could we expect his business skills to translate well to national governmental office?   Well, how did he do on even a smaller governmental level – say for just one state – when he was Massachusetts Governor?   Hm-m-m…..

Gov. Romney’s state then was among the lowest in the country in job creation.
Under his stewardship they had the second largest labor force decline in the nation.
They lost double the rate of manufacturing jobs that the nation as a whole lost.
He vetoed legislation that would have prevented doing business with companies who outsourced jobs to other countries.   
His state had below average economic growth, often close to the bottom nationally.

Romney doesn't have much to crow about and is hypocritical when it comes to what he says about health care given the program with which he was involved in Massachusetts.  These are only a few of many more less than positive facts that prevent my voting for the Republican Romney/Ryan ticket.

I believe the Democrat Obama/Biden ticket offers the most hope for continuing this nation on a road to gradual recovery in a manner that will:

create jobs,
benefit new business,
launch a rebirth of middle class America, 
institute a fair and balanced tax system
..... that doesn't place undue financial hardship on the wealthiest class,
cause the least financial and health harm to those of less means, 
provide health care to all citizens, 
preserve Social Security and Medicare with realistic adjustments,
reduce our national debt in a sane reasonable manner, 
rebuild our educational, social and physical infrastructure, 
maintain our military defense capability and national security, 
continue developing positive foreign relations around the world.

We'll need a Congress with forward thinking vision  that's willing to work for the salaries and benefits our taxes pay them to accomplish these goals for all generations today and for the future.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


We've heard the first of three 2012 Presidential TV debates between incumbent, President Barack Obama and challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.   (Note: I wrote this debate night, but only now am finally re-publishing.)      

The term "debate" is loosely applied in describing how these events are conducted, but this has been true since broadcasting these programs was first conceived many years ago.   This time I listened only on the radio since I’m still engaged in my temporary experiment of life without television.   One significant positive without TV  is that I'm not being subjected to negative Super Pac ads, and possible political use of 501C nonprofits ads. 

Formulating a complete debate event impression is significantly disadvantaged without video to actually see the participant speakers and moderator.  Listening only to a radio broadcast as I did, allowed me to hear the words, note the voice quality, tone, inflections, and formulate my sense of the participants emotions.  I was deprived of seeing the body language and facial expressions -- both major perception influencing factors.

I lacked information derived from seeing an opponent’s reaction to what the other speaker was saying.  Also, I could not see nonverbal signals and actions of the moderator which could influence what I might think about his effort to control the proceeding, or a debater whose conduct failed to respect the standard participation rules.

Soon after the debate began I became acutely aware that PBS moderator, Jim Lehrer, whose broadcasting skills I respect, was losing control of this event.   The shortcomings in this TV version of a debate format couldn't have been more obvious.   Candidate abuse of time guideline limitations is always an issue in these TV debates for which there is no penalty if the speaker does not respect such rules, or respond to being told their time is up. Once one candidate oversteps the boundaries as happened at this debate's very beginning, the other rightfully feels they’re entitled to equal time.  Maintaining and/or re-establishing program timeline direction can be adversely affected as was graphically demonstrated in this most recent debate.

Despite all this my personal opinion is that overall Mitt Romney left more of a positive  impression in this TV debate than Barack Obama.  That is not to say that candidate Romney "won" the debate, that his ideas were superior, or the information he provided was more factual, since some viewers might debate that matter.

Romney did briefly elaborate on some specifics, but continues to leave far too many unanswered questions about exactly how he'll make some changes he says he intends.  Voters would be strongly encouraged before voting to verify the credibility of statements Romney has made.  They would be wise to investigate whether his dollar numbers compute accurately, and actually make sense.  Some of his logically sounding  pronouncements are deceivingly simplistic because of significant factual omissions.

Much that is known of a Romney administration plan is very troublesome, coupled with his positions on so many issues that have been all over the map, so to speak, since he came into the political eye as a budding Presidential candidate.  Those inconsistencies should give many thinking voters serious reason for concern – IF they’ve been paying attention since he first came on the scene.  

We know his policies are predicated on channeling funds to private sector entities, taxes, regulations, subsidies that protect corporate and individual wealth, such as his own, for investment purposes -- mostly under the guise of claiming this will benefit middle class Americans -- presumably this has always been the argument he and such supporters have long professed.  Unless all the percentage figures and pie graphs I've seen for too many years are incorrect, these ethical, morally motivated, magnanimous, generous financial industry, corporate business leaders, politicians (not to be confused with statesmen,) and others, seem to be populated with a high percentage of individuals who've been strikingly unsuccessful in accomplishing their middle class re-birth goal by those means.  

Whatever could have gone awry?  The obvious answer is that greed has raped our capitalism.  I've said for the past thirty years that capitalism has been running amok at an escalating rate and degree.  We've reaped the consequences of this behavior for several reasons including:   betrayal by some leaders and fellow citizens, collusion by others through honest sincere judgment errors and, finally, apathy -- especially egregious with too many voters.  (Check the percentage of people who actually vote in all the elections in your community -- local to national, and not just the Presidential elections every four years.) 

If that small  percentage of citizens and corporations with the most wealth among us truly care about prosperity for all, then they should be willing to bear at least as equal a percentage share of the tax burden as the rest of us.   What is their justification for avoiding paying taxes by using legal shenanigans, paying at a tax rate much lower than the average American, or not at all, then hiding riches in non-taxable offshore accounts?   That's not saving to invest in creating American jobs for a strong middle class -- as we're told is the justification for some of these obscene tax rate differences.  This whole tax matter is symbolic of Romney's attitude toward most Americans.

(I still think Romney's tax returns he so zealously refuses to release would reveal information voters would be wise to know before casting a ballot for him.  We would see by what he has actually done tax-wise and with his wealth what he really believes -- revealing whose interests would be of primary focus from such a leader.)
President Obama is going to have to present his positions much more clearly and forcefully in the remaining weeks before election day.  He is going to have to be more concise with facts and specifics reiterating how he will keep this nation on a road to financial recovery through job creation. 

I want to hear from him more stress on the means by which the nation's middle class numbers will grow in America.  Plus I want descriptions of the measures that will protect those who may have need with reassurance he will resist efforts to eviscerate Social Security and Medicare, instead gradually adjusting these programs with reasoned care.   His policies and plans are not without need for refinement on several matters.   His re-election will not eliminate the fact there will continue to be specific issues requiring the public to forcefully make our expectations known to his administration and legislators as well especially in healthcare. 

President Obama’s responses were often indirect to the issues his opponent raised, plus he needs to hone in with focused rebuttals which he did not do in too many instances.  His statements need to culminate with a transition to a verbally offensive position.  (Easier said than done.) 

Frankly, I learned very little new from this debate, or much that I didn’t already know about both candidates, but there are many issue fine points about which we still need to be informed.   

Of course, the reality is that many people have already voted, others have made their choice, but will await voting until the traditional November election day as I will do. So the candidates’ goals must be to convince potential voters who can still register in some States to do so, then to vote.  Undecided registered voters, and potential unmotivated voters must be stimulated to cast their ballots.   

(Voting on the Internet is now available in California, select other States, with varying degrees of ballot security.  Computer scientists Douglas Jones and Barbara Simons have written "Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count" highly regarded for reading.   Every tech machine vote must be verifiable Simon says, which to date can only be accomplished with a back up paper ballot.   Simon cites Virginia as one State using some questionably secure voting machines (a system Pennsylvania rejected).  Note that Virginia is also one of the States in which accuracy of ballots and totals is considered to be of special significance influencing the national election's outcome this year.) 
I have great difficulty understanding why citizens don’t vote.   I’ve always believed voting is every citizen’s responsibility for the privilege of living in our republic/democracy – especially if we want to keep our nation from becoming an autocracy,  theocracy, plutocracy, or some other undesirable form of government. 

The very least we can do is to educate ourselves on the issues, candidates and vote – to preserve this nation’s government for our children, grandchildren and future generations.  Maybe then we also won't elect leaders whose judgement much too readily takes our nation to war, squandering our resources while neglecting our nation's infrastructure and handicapping the internal structural elements of our society.   

I think voters with passionate perspectives will vote but am concerned that others with more moderate views may be disenchanted with all government.   Moderates have had their ideas and beliefs marginalized, even discounted, by a vocal few for too long.  Disparate groups promoting a variety of extreme positions representing various minority issues have been allowed to exercise a disproportionate influence on congressional legislation, even preventing problem-solving actions – as witness Congresses past four years failure to meaningfully address major challenges facing this nation. 

Those congresspersons have deliberately failed to act in good faith on behalf of most citizens.  Then they tout what they characterize as a high-minded philosophical ideal to justify their inaction as a form of action.   In reality, Romney's political party members  have categorically said they were more interested in getting themselves elected into positions controlling this government than acting in a conciliatory manner respecting any others views than their own to resolve the problems this nation faces -- despite the fact at least half this nation's population does not agree with their ideas.  Now they hypocritically complain about the state of our economic recovery, the national debt, the slowed rate of job creation, health care cost resolution efforts and actually have the gall to blame the entire situation on this current Administration.

Such repeated frustrating behaviors from these political party bullies may have resulted in fostering an apathetic attitude in many moderates and young people who were previously interested in participating in the governing process through voting and/or service.   These discouraged moderate-thinking sensible potential new leaders and voters may have become so disgusted with the distorted influence of those obstructionist groups, that some moderates have been leaving Congress, other moderates among the public and young people are choosing to not vote in this election. 

This is a time when the nation most needs the moderates support to prevent our country from being lead rapidly by a Romney administration toward becoming a plutocracy – government controlled only by the wealthy.  Even our Supreme Court’s recent past years decisions have increasingly fostered our government’s trend in this direction.

The challenge is to reach the individuals in these moderate groups of all ages, dispel their cynicism, incite their passion to support the election of President Obama and other national legislative candidates -- probably Democrats -- in order to break the obstructive stranglehold used to immobilize our government's more efficient functioning.  Perhaps voters can elect more responsible moderates in both major political parties to Congress in the future.

The next debate will be between the Vice Presidential candidates.  There will be two more Presidential candidate debates in the weeks following with date and other specifics at this  Election Central site.   I'll look forward to viewing the next debates via live streaming video if available on the Internet for those like myself without cable or satellite service.