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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Comedy or Tragedy?

Uploaded: Sep 7, 2012
Whew – if the recent flurry of activity here on the DX Board is any indication (and it is), this week's doings in Charlotte have heightened interest in the Presidential campaign – and stoked the disquietude of the partisans seated on my right. It's going to be an interesting next couple of months here at Raucous Caucus HQ.

Others around here have focused on the fact that the campaigns are now framed by two very stark distinctions in the world views and visions of the two political parties. It has been characterized by the contrast between "We built it" vs. "We're all in this together." The icons of the Parties might be the lone cowpoke (perhaps the Marlboro Man, even -- Montana sheep herders need not apply) out on the range to the tune of a spaghetti western soundtrack, and a work crew building a Habitat for Humanity shelter, respectively. Others might draw the dichotomy along different lines, but individual vs. community outlook seems to sum it up. I think there's also another contrast that may play itself out in a significant way over the remaining several weeks until November 6.

If you had to describe the dominant emotions of the Tampa gathering in two words, what would they be? For me, they were anger, and fear. The place was awash in negativity toward government in concept, Washington DC in particular, and a caricature of Mr. Obama most specifically. The attacks were relentless, and credible mostly to the extent that they reinforced to each other the strawman image of the President that they had built-up over the past several years.

History was no match for frustration with current circumstances, and fear that the direction of the society was passing beyond the reach of those accustomed to steering it. Almost any claim or charge would do, as long as it fit the narrative. As unhappy as the GOP base is with its candidate, it was loudly united in its disdain for his competitor, and downright phobic about the prospect of a second term.

The Dems, by contrast, arrived in Charlotte in a beleaguered state, having been pummeled by their opposition across lo, these many months of Republican Primary headlines and dark SuperPAC-financed warnings. Once gathered, however, they have been buoyed by their speakers' reminders of Mr. Obama's considerable accomplishments against zealous odds, and even more so by the definition of their alternative vision of American communitarianism. Suddenly they weren't just defending a lukewarm economy by way of a bunch of wonkish stats – they were promoting an American way-of-life that goes beyond money, and is proud of it.

By the time the engaging and, remarkably, credible President Clinton concluded his populist manifesto on the evening of the second day, the Charlotte crowd was roaring and dancing in the aisles. That speech was a memorable masterpiece, combining actual policy, actual data and Clinton's unique man-of-the-people charm – and persuasiveness. He is clearly the only Yale-educated lawyer who can pull-off the use of the term "fixin' to" in a sentence – and perhaps also the only one who can turn "brass" from an adjective into a noun, in context. His unique gift for distilling issues to their essence and conveying them understandably provided substantial undergirding for the delegates' rising spirits. At this writing, I haven't yet heard Mr. Obama's Acceptance speech, but I'm willing to wager that it will double-down on the positivity and enthusiasm thus far created.

Looking for an historical antecedent, I recall the 1980 campaign season, when a somber Jimmy Carter preached sacrifice and implied decline, whereas Mr. Reagan threw open the drapes on "Morning in America." I think the Democrats have taken a page from his book, and will leave the Carolinas with joy and positivity around a good job, in-progress that's been hard-won, that will similarly offer a fundamental contrast with the dusky, angry gloom of the GOP.

Americans generally don't like to be pissed-off and pessimistic when an optimistic, proud and, yes, Forward-looking alternative is presented. We prefer happy endings to our dramas. I believe that the positivity gap, perhaps as much as the clearly contrasting particulars of the two visions now laid-out, will be decisive between now and in November. We'll get an early indication based on whether there's a significant post-convention bump for the Dems -- one that that has so far eluded the GOP.

[Note: this entry has been saved in rich text format – if this doesn't work to eliminate all that hinky punctuation that sometimes appears, I may need to delete it and try plain text – TFC

Comments

Posted by Voter, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Did you actually watch the Republican convention? Did you miss all the true, uplifting, stories about people, working hard, keeping their faith, and achieving success? Mr. Ryan's dad died when he was a teen ager, and his mom got on a bus and went to work to support the family. Senator Rubio's parents came here from Cuba, struggled but worked hard,loved the liberty and freedom to achieve in the US, and put their son through college, and he became a Senator. Governor Romney's family, unlike the media likes to portray, was not wealthy, as his dad was not a college graduate, but through hard work, Governor Romney achieved great success. Despite his wife's cancer and M.S., the family stayed positive, upbeat, and through prayer and faith, overcame great obstacles.

You and your liberal friends will never see what you do not want to see.

The Republican convention was one of hope, hard work, faith, family, and success.

The Democrats actually booed God!

As usual, you are 100% wrong!


Posted by Voter, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm

"The remarkably credible" Bill Clinton? Mr. Credibility, lied under oath about cheating on his wife with a young vulnerable intern, as congress voted for impeachment. If that is your definition of "credible", no wonder your party booed God.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

V -- you might want to check the punctuation in that sentence -- it might surprise you.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

There you go again Voter, twisting facts to say that "Democrats actually booed God". Nobody "booed God".

Some people attending the Democratic convention booed when the word "God-given" was re-inserted in a phrase of the party platform to say "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential." Not too hard to understand that, in a crowd that big and diverse, making an exclusive reference to the Christian God just might happen to make some of different religious views feel discrimination. Personally I think that "God-given" is enough of an idiom as to not strongly suggest religious favoritism and it wouldn't have bothered me whether "God-given" was in or out. But there is still separation of church and state in this country [thank God ;-)] and this platform is about government.

You can be against religion in government and still embrace religion. But some people seem to have a hard time drawing the line between them. That's why religion doesn't belong in government.


Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 8, 2012 at 6:44 am

Nobody who wanted to be taken seriously would claim that their political opposition "booed God." It's the sort of demonizing hyperbole that speaks volumes -- but only about the paranoia suffered by the claimant.

Fear and anger, indeed.


Posted by Voter, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

It was the "credible" Bill Clinton who said during primary when Hillary was running against Obama that Obama "was not qualified to be President" and "if it was not for him being African American he would not have been even considered".
Well Tommy Boy, want to explain that?


Posted by Diane, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 8, 2012 at 9:36 am

Voter, you've just had two credible responses to your accusation that the dems "booed God" - care to comment?

One thing we all know, is that during the process of obtaining the presidential nomination, supporters of potential candidates (and candidates themselves) will sling mud at the others as a way to discredit others and gain favor in the eyes of voters. All those nasty remarks made by Cain, Romney and Paul (and their supporters) about each other will undoubtedly culminate in a veritable love fest, as the party works to restore unity. It is, unfortunately, a part of the political process.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 8, 2012 at 10:58 am

Darn Diane, I came here to say something similar. I do wonder if Voter, or any of his several alter egos, really wants to open the door to a conversation about all the kind things Mr. Romney's primary opponents had to say about him -- not four years ago with a spouse in the race, but just a few months back?

Fact of the matter is that, remarkably, Mr. Clinton's approval ratings approach those of Santa Claus. Like it or not, that's the current state of things -- and that's not good news for the GOP.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

Obama's speech was amazing. My immediate reaction was, oh no, this guy's going to win.

I loved Clinton's speech. Of course, I've always loved Clinton. I proudly voted for Clinton in 1992. He reminded me of JFK. Still does. Democrats at their best. When the Republicans wasted all that time and money impeaching him--and for WHAT??--it made me mad. And when Bush started those wars, wasted all our money, and the Republicans cheered him on, I swore I would never vote for another Republican again.

I liked Kerry's speech too. I still can't believe you guys re-elected Bush instead of Kerry, basically giving Bush a pass, in effect telling Bush that what he did was ok. Shame on you.

Tom's assessment is wrong, of course. This election is not a choice between "individual vs. community." Of course Romney supports communities. Didn't he pass Romneycare in Massachusetts? What about all his countless hours of charity work and the millions he's given to charities. As a young man, he gave his entire inheritance away to charity.

This election is about whether the best way to strengthen communities is to continue doing it as America has always done it, through churches, charities, schools, volunteering, etc. To support your community, you don't have to support massive federal government programs like Obamacare and wealth transfer payments that create welfare dependency, and other govt. programs that actually make problems worse.

And Obama's the one spreading fear. Obama's campaign to this point has consisted almost entirely of personal attack ads on Romney, lies and distortions mostly.

And the rare times Obama does talk about issues, it's usually presenting the false choice that if the "rich" would merely pay their "fair share" we can continue to expand the welfare state. It's a lie, of course. We could take all the money the 1% earns and it wouldn't even come close to balancing our budget, let alone start paying off our debt. Obama has added $5 trillion of new debt in 4 years and he plans to add $5 trillion more in the next 4 years, so that when he's done, we will be $20 trillion in debt, $10 trillion of which was borrowed under Obama.

This election is about the size and scope of the Federal government. If America is to survive, we need to get the size of the Federal government under control.


Posted by Diane, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Sorry Tom! I would much rather have read your version of a response to V than mine. You have a way of expressing things with a much more measured approach. Next time I won't be so hasty!


Posted by Malcom X, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 9, 2012 at 12:06 am

See, Cushing likes to bumb his gums with all sorts of political sewage when it comes to the GOP. Me? I take the center lane and point out the failings of both the Repubs and Dems. For example, Cushing wailed against Bush going into Iraq. Ok, case validated. But why not point out what Kennedy did in Vietnam. 50,000 American servicemen never returned home. And then Lyndon Baynes Johnson took over and made things worse. It was Nixon who finally got our guys out. And now, look what is happening in wore torn Afghanistan. More of our guys die because Obama won't pull them out. Yeah, Cushing you are so spot on.

I like facts. No need to butter anything up. So, I'll leave you with a FACT below:

Here's a milestone that's difficult for President Barack Obama to brag about: There are 133.3 million Americans working — 261,000 short of the number when he was inaugurated in January 2009.

Read more: Web Link


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 9, 2012 at 11:13 am

Hi Diane: I would Never want to discourage a friendly voice in this wilderness. Please don't ever hesitate β€" others certainly don't.

Spc: thanks for a comment that goes to substance. I can't take credit for the individual v. community riff β€" that has come from many commentators, including CRMudgeon on this Board.

Yours is an interesting frame for this election, I just don't think those misty water-colored good ol' days were anywhere near as good as you recall them, for lots and lots of folks, and lots of reasons. I also think that your frame is too narrow to contain the interests of many voters, for whom a sane and nuanced foreign policy, voting rights, equality, education and seniors' issues also need a place in the picture. There isn't any going-back, it wouldn't be good policy if there was, and a focus Only on the economics problem is just too narrow.

MX: You know, for completeness, maybe I ought to give a nod to the fear and loathing on the southpaw side, as well β€" but yours is so much more passionate. I just don't get Dems on here writing about β€œbumbing" anybody's "gums with sewage."

Sorry β€" I'll try for fair, but you'll only get balanced only when it's due.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Independent voters will decide this election and they hardly care about voting rights, equality, and the other issues you mention. Those are the issues Democrats care about. Independents predominantly care about the economy, by a wide margin.

And another thing... β'€ "β™β ™€€β♝ €€™€ HA HA HA!!!!


Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Voter -

Somehow I missed the part of the Republican Convention where they discussed Ryan trust fund. Where was that?

I also looked to see whether there were any non-white delegates in the audience. Hardly saw any, although I heard later that there were 40 or so among the thousands of white delegates. Not really a community representative of America.


Posted by Stats, a resident of Blackhawk,
on Sep 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm

At the Democratic National Convention, 27% of the delegates were African American, even though they represent just 12.6% of the population. Is that "representative of America?"


Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Much more so than to be so few as to be nearly invisible.


Posted by Stats, a resident of Blackhawk,
on Sep 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

About 75% of the RNC delegates were white. This is about the same percentage of white people in the overall U.S. population.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

Would you rather have Condoleeza Rice as the "face" of your political party or Sandra Fluke?

How can anyone in this country not be in awe of this highly educated, intelligent, brave, and independent woman? How can the militant and short-sighted women in the DNC not see the difference in character and strength between Condoleeza Rice and Sandra Fluke? One an angry opportunist and taker - the other an honest giver.

Would you rather have Suzanna Martinez, Governor of New Mexico, and the female governor of South Carolina as the "face" of your political party or Joe Biden, the guy who had the view that we shouldn't encourage the Navy Seals to take care of Obama...

The face of the new democratic party is in the photos of all the teachers striking in Chicago, and in the Occupier protests in the nation. That is the new face of the Democrat party:(

Stationed chiropractors could have helped stimulate the economy right then and there at the convention, by removing the HUGE chips off of the convention attendees shoulders.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

I surely made a typo mistake when I mentioned Joe Biden and his reluctance in taking "out" Obama - I surely meant Osama Bin Laden - NOT Obama.

Sorry for any confusion...


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm

The fear and anger of the right wing is readily apparent in their posts right here on DX, aren't they? And when it's not just spitting at the other guys, it's the "Ryan's Express" - just lie about stuff:

"And the rare times Obama does talk about issues, it's usually presenting the false choice that if the "rich" would merely pay their "fair share" we can continue to expand the welfare state. It's a lie, of course."

---Actually, the statement about what "Obama talks about" is the lie. He never said anything like what spcwt said - that's the right wing propaganda line used to divert attention from the real issue: why are millionaires paying much ***lower*** tax rates now than they were under Clinton? With all the hullabaloo now over the national debt (coming from people who were silent as the grave when that majority of that debt accrued under Reagan, BushI and BushII) you'd think the additional revenue from restoring historical tax rates in a manner which wouldn't hurt the economy would be a good enough reason to do it. But you can't say that if your a soldier of the right, so you make up a big lie about what Obama supposedly said. tsk, tsk.


"We could take all the money the 1% earns and it wouldn't even come close to balancing our budget, let alone start paying off our debt."

Nobody ever said it would. That's a weaselly excuse for not doing something that would actually help the nation, even if it didn't solve all problems all by itself. But every part of the budget counts. You can reduce the budget for defense or education or research; or you could return to historic tax rates for people whose money makes enough money for them to live in luxury without working, and make the federal deficit a bit smaller. What's your choice?

"Obama has added $5 trillion of new debt in 4 years and he plans to add $5 trillion more in the next 4 years, so that when he's done, we will be $20 trillion in debt, $10 trillion of which was borrowed under Obama." Actually, the first trillion of what you're calling Obama's debt was really BushII's debt. And running a deficit to stave off economic collapse is actually a valid reason for doing so, which is why the process began in Bush's last year in office and has continued under Obama. On the other hand, the majority of the nation's debt was run up by Reagan, BushI and BushII, to deliberately cripple our nation's ability to deal with future problems - a craven, sneaky and despicable policy called "starve the beast."

Any Republican should hang his or her head in shame any time the national debt is discussed. It's a Republican debt, created intentionally and unnecessarily from base motives, which has harmed our nation when we needed to have our full borrowing ability intact to deal with the biggest economic crisis since the Depression.


Posted by John, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Here's a sugestion, Paul Ryan wants the voucher system so bad, why doesn't he volunteer and reject his own cadilac medical plan? He is a millionaire and I am subsidizing his medical care? I can verily afford my families medical care.

And why were at it, let's have Ryan and his tea baggers reduce their salaries to the US national average 50K to 60K annually. Maybe then and only then will this group have any credibility. Paul Ryan's a real buget hawk, what am I missing.

I don't have enough room to talk about the "tin man". All I know if the tin man gets elected the economy will be much worse off, and that's before these fools start more wars.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 14, 2012 at 8:05 am

Democrats used to be the party of shared sacrifice. When FDR and LBJ rolled out Social Security and Medicare, we all paid for it together, no matter how rich or poor you were. We all paid. We all benefitted.

With Obamacare, the rich pay for it all.

JFK said, "Ask what you can do for your country." Obama asks what additional freebies and goodies you'd like the government to force rich people to buy for you. And Sandra Fluke says she can't afford $9/mo. for her birth control, but funny enough she can afford a $100/mo. iPhone.

Rich people pay more than 50% tax on their income. 50% tax is more than a fair share.

The rich pay more than 50% tax on their wages (35% Fed, 12.4% Social Security, 2.9 Medicare, 9.3% California).

Investment income is subject to more than 50% as well. Half of that is paid by the individual investor (15% federal tax, 9.3% California tax). The other half is imposed at the corporate level before the investor receives a dime in dividends or capital gains (35% Federal corporate tax, 8.84% California tax). Ultimately, all corporate taxes are borne by the investors.


Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 14, 2012 at 8:39 am

You know better, of course, so why are you trying to deceive those who don't? Wait -- you're really Paul Ryan, aren't you?

I'll just take one of your intentionally deceitful claims -- that "The Rich" pay 35% to the Feds. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the effective federal tax rate on the Top 20% of individuals ("the rich") is 14.4%! You were just exaggerating by 243%. Here's the link: Web Link

You have identified yourself previously as a tax lawyer. Now you have revealed yourself a fraud, as well.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I don't know if I'm more insulted being accused of being a fraud or being accused of being Paul Ryan. ha ha. If you've read my posts, you know I'm no friend of the GOP.

Why do you refer to the "Top 20%" as being "The Rich"? You only have to earn $74,000 to be in the Top 20%. That ain't rich.

Web Link

Your link supports what I said. It shows the Top 1%, those who make $380,000 per year or more, had a total federal effective tax rate of 29.5%. If you add on 9.3% California tax, you're getting close to 40%. But as that link notes, they reached that number by combining both wage income and investment income together.

If you separate the two, you'll see wages of the Top 1% are subject to 35% income tax, social security, medicare and California tax that easily exceed 50%.

And as for tax on investment income, you can't just look at 15% federal tax and not include 9.3% California tax or the 35% corporate tax that is ultimately borne by the investor.


Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm

My own reaction to Bill Clinton's speech at the DNC was that it will largely serve to remind voters how lacking Obama has been as a President. Clinton had a Republican Congress for 6 of his 8 years in office, and was both pragmatic and sensible enough to embrace several fairly conservative legislative initiatives (welfare reform being one of them). Even though Clinton was to some extent dragged into these, he was astute enough to get on the bandwagon and claim credit, even to the point of making voters think they were his ideas all along!

Obama is far too wedded to his ideology to actually be "Clinton-esque", and so I doubt if much of the Clinton aura rubs off.

As for the booing at the platform changes (both the re-insertion of the term "God-given", as well as the restoration of "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel" position, I don't know what I find more amusing - the exhibition of cluelessness on the part of the platform committee, or the ham-handed way in which the phrases were re-inserted, despite the voice-vote being somewhat obviously against the re-insertion.

I would agree that DNC delegates get more visibly excited by their candidates, than do RNC delegates (or at least most of them). But I don't think this translates into differences in voter turnout. Dems and liberals also do a lot more drum playing, chanting, and folk-song-singing at their rallies and protests, compared to Republicans and/or consdervatives. Maybe this is some sort of left-brain vs right-brain thing, or emotion vs reason. But I will concede that Dems have it all over Repubs, when it comes to slogan-chanting....


Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Yeah, SPCWT is misrepresenting his numbers, then trying to back away from them without admitting it.

The 35% tax rate is only a MARGINAL rate. It doesn't apply to all income of a high income earner -- only to the top portion of it.

Similarly, a high income earner doesn't pay 12.4% in SS taxes. He/she pays it only on the first $110k. After that, the rate is 0%, because SS taxes are owed only on the first $110k of income.

spcwt would be more credible if he didn't try to fudge the numbers.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm

The newly published book written by Woodward is an unfortunate glimpse at how both political parties are so entrenched as career politicians. They can't get over their own egos enough to help the citizens in this country -not just their own constituents. They an't come together under this current president, in their negotiations regarding budget discussions and the complicated tax formulas in place.

One big surprise after reading the book; I have more insight into Joe Biden and I found him genuine in his efforts to work with the republicans over the budget. That was a nice surprise, and he seems like a very respectable man. Obama on the other hand is a piece of work. He'd throw his own mother under the bus if necessary. Nice guy...


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