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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dear Progressives

Dear Progressives,

We may think that President Obama's reelection is inevitable and that would probably be true. Thanks in part to Rick Santorum undermining Mitt Romney and Romney's inevitable nomination, Obama may have the fortune of facing the weakest GOP challenger since Goldwater.

Furthermore, if as I suspect most Ron Paul supporters shift their support to Gary Johnson in the general election, Obama will  likely landslide Romney and maybe even regain the House while keeping the Senate.

Given all this good news, it is tempting to get excited about the prospects of Obama 2. Given the mandate of a landslide and unfettered by the need to be re-elected, the word will at last become flesh, populist rhetoric will become political reality.

For a moment let's imagine the best: progressive tax reform with a 40% marginal rate for millionaires. Permanent payroll tax reduction funded by raising the cap to a million dollars. A universally available public option added to Obamacare. And if the Supreme Court rejects the individual mandate, single payer, what we wanted all along, will be passed before the midterm elections. Spending will shift from wars, occupations, corporate welfare and all other forms empire building and maintenance to green technology and infrastructure. Good paying jobs will come back by the millions. Obama will leave office as the greatest president since FDR and pass the baton on to Hilary.

As lovely a picture as that may be, let's be real. Regardless of how well this election turns out for Obama, he will not have 60 progressives Senators next year and so very little of this agenda (assuming it is his) will make it to his desk for signature.

What we can more realistically expect is the preservation of Obamacare to evolve over a generation into something like the German system of universal coverage. We may see a few minor military skirmishes and war with Iran may be averted. Gas prices will fall to just below $3 a gallon before they creep back up to around $3.50 remain there for there last 2 years of Obama's presidency. He'll leave office with unemployment near 6% with a net job increase of 12 million over 8 years, with 20 million created in the last six years of his two terms in office.

Not a bad record but any future president wanting to start a war will be able to do so without congressional approval through the war powers act. American citizens can and will be taken into custody and held without charges. A few will be assassinated with only the president's declaration of their status as an enemy. That power in Hilary's hands will not look much different from Obama's but eventually a Liz Cheney presidency will up the ante.

Military contracts and a national fossil fuel boom will account for nearly half of the new jobs with most of the other jobs coming through service sector employment at near minimum wage. Foregoing any significant increase in the minimum wage will be the political price for closing tax loopholes and making the top rate 28% rather than 25%.

The military and security budget will be well above a trillion a year. Medicare and Medicaid will be cut back with more private insurers taking over. A deal will be struck that raises the retirement age to 70 by the end of the century and moves the social security cap up to $250K in the same time frame. The total payroll tax burden will reach 20% well ahead of those changes.

Who knows what will happen? Gas prices could continue to rise and stay high through November, helping Romney. The best that progressives can do is put the pressure on Obama. Voting for Ron Paul in the primary sends the president a message: cut the military budget first and foremost before you do anything with the domestic budget. End the drug war now. Restore civil liberties by ending the patriot act now.

Get Paul the needed boost and see what he decides to do. There is still an outside chance he will form a real coalition candidacy. If not, with enough support he will be compelled to run third party or independent. Doing so puts him on the debate stage and keeps Obama from tilting further right on war and military spending.

Do you really have anything to gain from voting for Obama in the primary? You still have much to lose by not voting for Paul in the primary.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Now that Hope is Dashed

The prospects for Ron Paul winning the Republican nomination were slim from the beginning.  Nearing the midpoint of the primary season, we must now all admit that Ron Paul will not be the nominee. I anticipate that he will surprise people by finishing second in the delegate count despite the media’s assumption that he is in fourth place. 

Pulling off second place would be an extraordinary feat. Finishing first in the delegate count would be pure organizational genius, striking fear into the heart of establishment Republicans and Democrats everywhere.
Unfortunately, even in the unlikely event of Paul winning a plurality of delegates, the GOP convention will not allow his name to be placed on the ballot. We are more likely to see a Romney/Santorum ticket or something close to it with one corporate favorite and one cultural conservative crush. The libertarian is too big of a threat to the military industrial catastrophe.

It also seems highly unlikely that the purpose of this blog will be realized either. Ron Paul will probably not run independent or third party and more importantly will not choose a progressive running mate. Furthermore, my recent call for Anderson, Johnson and Stein to do in the minor leagues what Paul has been unwilling to do in the big leagues has fallen on deaf ears, if there were any ears to fall on. 

Sadly, if this blog were ever read by someone in the big leagues, it has generated all the enthusiasm children usually reserve for asparagus. I am almost finished tilting at this windmill. Before I join the massive ranks of those who ignore my blog, I wish to ask someone to feed this post up the food chain to some Young Turks' intern. (Is that a low enough expectation for this would be weed withering beneath the astroturf?)

Specifically, I have this one humble question: Does anyone believe that a halfway progressive agenda can get 60 votes in the US Senate and the president's signature without a real coalition with libertarians? Or to ask this question of the other side of this could-have-been alliance: Does anyone believe that a halfway libertarian agenda can get 60 votes in the US Senate and the president's signature without a real coalition with progressives?

I'm not sure where to go from here. My instinct tells me that if progressives and libertarians do not eventually make a temporary alliance, neither of us will realize any of our most important political and economic goals.Corporatism will continue to rule, and eventually unemployment will settle beneath 6 percent and everyone will be convinced that we can do no better than that without bubbles. The culture will gradually liberalize. Gay multi-ethinic CEOs will reduce abortion through corporate sponsored adoptions. Christian fascists, taunted by liberal propagandists, will voice their moral outrage while a growing population of working poor are warned against government sponsored cancer insurance. 

Someone humor me. Give me a bite.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dear Libertarians

Do you want to punish the GOP? You'll get your wish when Ron Paul  runs a write in campaign or endorses Gary Johnson. The caveat you must accept with this desirable outcome is a Democratic party reinvigorated by a Obama/Biden landslide over Romney/Santorum.

If Ron Paul decides to stick with an exclusively libertarian agenda , endorsing the Libertarian Party nominee or choosing a fellow libertarian as his running mate, the Democratic Party will be the primary beneficiary. If, on the other hand, Ron Paul embraces a coalition platform and chooses a progressive running mate, he will severely damage both major parties.

And so my libertarian friends, do you want to be the best friend of Obama and the Democratic party, or do you want to harm both parties and possibly win a victory that permanently disables them and gives Ron Paul the bully pulpit for at least 4 years?

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Appeal to Anderson, Johnson, and Stein for a Coalition Candidacy (cc Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich)

Your campaigns are signs of defiant hope that the American government can and should be of, for and by the people. We certainly need multiple political parties to represent the ideological diversity of the American people.

The Democratic and Republican parties have largely betrayed the will and expectations of ordinary Americans and cannot be trusted to cooperate on policy making except to affirm the status quo, lowest common denominator. Their differences are largely rhetorical. Their policy actions are largely indistinguishable.

On foreign policy both parties are aggressive interventionists committed to empire building and maintenance. On economic policies, their actions are largely the same, having been bought and paid for by the same multi-nation corporations and banks. On cultural issues, they express real differences but seek no real resolutions, needful as they both are to keep these wedge issues in the game to divert our attention from more urgent problems.

The bait and switch, divide and conquer strategy of the corporate duopoly is so blatantly obvious, we need not rehearse it here. Your campaigns and parties have made valiant efforts to move us beyond status quo politics. We are hopeful that one day your voices will be heard more broadly and taken more seriously.

The goal of greater political visibility is necessary but we are sure that your ultimate goal is to change our government so that the American people can be empowered to live full lives of liberty and justice for all.
We therefore ask all three of you to give consideration to forming a coalition ticket for president and vice president in the general election.

We understand there are real and significant policy differences among the three of you, perhaps less so between Rocky and Jill.  We also recognize the need not to undermine party formation. At this point we are not recommending coalition candidacies for congressional and state offices.

The biggest obstacles to a coalition candidacy are the differences on economic policy. While a coalition candidacy would limit the scope and direction of economic reform, we believe that both progressive and libertarian economic policy can be better advanced under a coalition government than under either a Democratic or Republican administration.

To move forward we recommend these core policy commitments be at the center of a coalition campaign and government. A Green, Justice, and Libertarian platform should be committed to following 3 goals:

1.) Reducing the overall size, budget and debt of the federal government first and foremost by greatly reducing the military and homeland security budgets to what is constitutionally and reasonably needed to defend our nation from those who desire and intend to do violence against us. Other significant reductions could come from ending the drug war and corporate welfare. Some less sizable reductions can also be  achieved by consolidation of domestic departments and agencies, simplification of tax policy, increased use of smart technology and less paper work, and devolving authority either temporarily or permanently to state and local governments.

2.) Reforming our tax and tariff systems to increase revenues in ways that are more progressive, less burdensome for the vast majority of Americans, and more consumption oriented. We would urge that the present income tax system be transformed into a progressive consumption tax which exempts at least $25K of annual consumption per person and provides a progressive earned income tax credit voucher card option to replace tax deductions, exemptions, credits, loopholes and their accompanying paperwork. We also urge a gradual increase in carbon taxes, alcohol, tobacco and other newly legalized drugs and health damaging products and services. Finally we believe that tariffs on imports should be based on environmental stewardship and justice and on human, civil, labor, and consumer rights. Products and services imported from countries that show hostility or less concern for these standards should be accessed higher tariff rates, while countries with standards comparable in intent and effect to ours should have their tariffs on products and services lowered.

3.) Direct all savings from spending reductions and all revenue gains from tax and tariff reforms equally toward debt reduction and funding of state and local governments.  We believe that over 4 years not less than 5 trillion dollars of savings and revenue can and should be directed away from Washington toward debt reduction and minimally conditional funding of state and local governments. Reducing national debt by a minimum of $2.5 trillion and sending $2.5 trillion to state and local governments to spend and invest as they see fit will stimulate the economy and produce greater revenue gains which should accelerate progress towards a balanced budget and the creation of stable and well compensated jobs. We recommend that all state and local governments receiving these funds be required to report clearly, publicly and online where every dime is allocated.

We realize that Gary is likely to want greater reductions in government spending and tax reform advocate flatter, fewer, lower and consumption-oriented taxes. Jill and Rocky, on the other hand, are likely to call for greater federal investment in domestic infrastructure, education and renewable energy while increasing labor, consumer and environmental protection. No doubt, neither libertarians nor progressives will consider these 3 core agreements as the ideal means for building economic stability, increasing jobs creation and reducing national debt.

We ask for this coalition not because we think that these 3 core planks in a platform will solve all of our problems. Instead we believe that this policy platform (with perhaps a few minor adjustments) would be acceptable to all  of you and advance both libertarian and progressive agendas simultaneously to a significantly greater degree than either Obama 2 or Romney 1. In other words, a real coalition government will advance the libertarian agenda further than a Republican administration and move forward the progressive agenda better than a Democratic administration.

Finally and most importantly, a coalition candidacy has a much better chance of winning than any of you do running exclusively and separately as your parties' nominees. A temporary alliance is a necessary transitional means for liberating our nation and the world from the chains of violent corporatocracy. 5 or 10 years from now, our common adversary vanquished from illegitimate power, we can contest one another in future campaigns. However, in a present crisis, continued sectarian ideology and tribal politics will only feed the corporate beast at the expense of the 99 Percent.

We therefore encourage you to immediately form a Green, Justice and Libertarian Coalition candidacy to run in the general election race for president and vice president. If, as seems almost inevitable, Ron Paul does not form such a coalition candidacy with a progressive such as Dennis Kucinich or Elizabeth Warren, we suggest that Gary be on the ticket with either Jill or Rocky. It matters not who is at the top of the ticket as long as all three of you pledge to do everything legally possible to enact all 3 planks of this coalition platform.

We submit this appeal with the sincere hope that you will give serious and thoughtful consideration to our proposal to form a real coalition candidacy and government. We ask that you respond in a timely and prompt manner in order that the names of a coalition candidacy can be placed on the ballots of all states and territories before fast approaching deadlines.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Searching for a Way Ahead (You might Need to Read the 2nd Paragraph 1st)

In my previous post I tried to imagine where Ron Paul's campaign is going, given its unwavering quest for delegates with seemingly little regard for the popular vote. The best conclusion I could reach is that Paul is angling for Treasury Secretary.

For the record, I don't really believe Ron Paul is angling for anything from Romney. He may actually believe that this delegate strategy is his only chance. So also for the record, if the present strategy gives Ron Paul a plurality of delegates, I will admit my error and apologize for doubting his campaign. I do hope that the campaign will be courageous enough to admit they were wrong should Paul finish second or worse in delegate totals (rather than spin all things Paul successful).

In this post I want to begin to imagine where we might go from here. But first where is here?

We are headed for an impassable dilemma. Assuming Ron Paul stays in the race until the convention, he will not be able to get his name on the ballots of more than 7 states. If he decides to get his name on the ballots of all 50 states, he will lose any opportunity of getting anything from the GOP because most states require all the paper work for an independent on the ballot be done before the convention in late August.

To me it seems evident that he should be making preparations right now to get on the ballot in every state. By May if he has not turned the campaign around, he should drop out and announce his coalition candidacy with Dennis Kucinich. Sadly, I don't see this happening. However, I would support a write-in campaign even though a write-in campaign almost guarantees a lopsided loss.

A long shot for switching to a coalition strategy while Paul remains in the GOP contest is to look to the Libertarian, Green and Justice parties to see if they would be willing to form a coalition candidacy for the general election. Gary Johnson/Jill Stein might not have the most name recognition but with possible endorsements from Rocky Anderson, Ron Paul,  Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, etc. this combo might actually get in the debates and set the ground work for a bigger run in 2016.

Another possibility is to get Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich or some such combination on the Americans Elect ballot. It may or may not be worth pursuing this path. AE may be an astroturf organization and if it puts some sort of "moderate" ticket together we'll know its true feathers.

I see no way around looking forward to 2016. There is much work to be done and this work begins with identifying progressives and libertarians who are willing to support a coalition candidacy. Ron Paul's long term strategy has been to take over the Republican party and make it the libertarian party. That may happen but it will probably take another generation or more. There are young neo-cons who want just as much to keep the imperial party for themselves.

What would be most helpful is to look for and identify both libertarian and progressive candidates to run for House and Senate seats. Libertarians should target blue dog districts and states while progressives target neo-con districts and states. Progressive and libertarian voters should switch parties  where needed and we should avoid trying to nominate a libertarian and a progressive in the same district.

Obviously this needs to be coordinated and probably means that Green Party and Libertarian Party members need to face reality and see that they are not going to win outside of the two party structure but if they cooperate with libertarian Republicans and progressive Democrats, they stand a better chance of getting their agendas on the floor of congress. Open and tactical infiltration of both major parties is the only way to overthrow the establishment.

This congressional strategy should begin right now and be as geared up as possible for the 2014 election. Midterm elections offer the best chance at getting coalition candidates elected. We must support only candidates who pledge to work with a coalition of libertarians and progressives. We must also be willing to support the right kind of hybrid candidate.

A transitional coalition platform needs to be developed. This platform should have  three basic elements:
1.) big reductions in the empire building and maintenance budget,
2.) increased revenue through tax reform that is simple, progressive and consumption oriented, and
3.) distribution of savings and new revenues, half for debt reduction and half for block grants to states.

Anyone on board?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ron Paul's End Game

NOTE: Go here first... http://progressivesforronpaul.blogspot.com/2012/04/ron-paul-bait-for-long-term-strategy.html
The following post has become very controversial because many are misunderstanding. The purpose of this post was to demonstrate that the most optimistic view of the delegate strategy yields unacceptable results.

The day is closing across the USA. A few primaries and caucuses are yet to be determined or too close to call. We will not know until very early in the morning here on the east coast whether Paul manages finally to win a state as the Alaskan caucuses are just getting started. 

So far Ron Paul has finished third or fourth in every state except Virginia, North Dakota, and maybe Vermont. In Virginia he has finished a disappointing and distant second. Regardless of what consolation Alaska offers, Virginia was the last opportunity for Ron Paul to turn the tide. He was the only candidate on the ballot and write-ins for Santorum, Gingrich and others were not allowed. 

The other two anti-Romney candidates had their supporters voting for Paul which accounts for his highest finish to date with 41% of the vote. Probably 15 to 20 percentage points came from Santorum and Gingrich supporters. Another 10 to 15 percentage points came from crossover Democrats and independents. Had Democrats turned out for Paul in Virginia as they apparently did for Santorum in Ohio, Paul would have defeated Romney.

Of course Democrats turned out for Santorum in Ohio because of Operation Hilarity. As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I suspect this crossover voting to be design to preempt Democrats from turning toward Ron Paul. As with most conspiracy theories I have much subjectively invested in it. It may be that Moulitsas, Moore, et al are innocent of malicious intent except to cause mischief. The timing of their mischief is opportune and effective. 

Perhaps there is an intuitive means of testing my theory. Imagine if Ron Paul were in the position occupied by Santorum prior to the Michigan primary. Would the megaphonic  propagandists of the left have been as happy to use Paul for their destructive intentions? Answer that question honestly as you evaluate my conspiracy theory.

Regardless of the left's motivations, Ron Paul and his campaign bear as much, if not more, responsibility for this missed opportunity. No significant investment in Virginia? No attempts to reach out with robo calls to Democrats? Clearly, something is amiss in the Ron Paul campaign.

His diehard stalwarts are of course going to remind me that the delegate strategy is working. What exactly does that mean? What is the best case scenario this strategy produces? A majority of delegates and the nomination even though Paul finishes 3rd in the vote total? I do not think Paul has morons on his staff. There must be some other goal.

Perhaps the goal is to gain a plurality of delegates and in a brokered convention make the case that Paul played by the rules to win delegates and delegates are what counts, not votes. To deny him the nomination on the grounds that he did not gain a plurality of votes is to betray the rules established by the party and to send a message to America that Republicans cannot be trusted to play by the rules.

I doubt that strategy holds up when Santorum and Gingrich are asked whether their delegates should go to first place Paul or second place Romney, especially since Romney does want to be president, so much so that he'll give Gingrich a cabinet post and Santorum the VP spot in exchange for the nomination. Paul could be offered a consolation prize as well, say, Secretary of Labor and if he refused, be left to see what he could do as an independent in the general election.

Perhaps Paul views this campaign as an educational tour culminating in a prime time speech at the convention. I doubt that Ron Paul has set his aim so low. 

Perhaps, as is speculated much in the MSM, Paul has made a deal to get his son a  cabinet post or VP. While offering such a deal to Paul would definitely be in Romney's interests, accepting a deal like this would be out of character for Paul, not to mention a disillusioning experience for the millions of enthusiastic young enthusiasts he has inspired. Ron Paul would not let them down for the sake of nepotism.

What I suspect is Ron Paul knows that Mitt Romney will not win this election without his endorsement. He also knows that the GOP establishment would never stand for him or Rand being a heart beat away from the presidency. However, the GOP establishment would be reluctantly willing to allow him to take the seat of Alexander Hamilton so that Ron Paul can begin to have his conversation with Ben Bernanke and a larger American audience about legal tender laws and competitive and parallel currencies.

This progressive would not be happy with that outcome not because I disagree with Paul on this issue. I do not disagree with him. I think competitive currency in the consumer market place is possible and indeed may be exactly what the dollar needs to stabilize over the long haul and maybe a first step for moving currency creation authority back to the congress where it belongs. 

I would not be satisfied with this because the MIC would be left in place The massive domestic stimulus that we need in green infrastructure and technology would be replaced by another military stimulus. Ron Paul may have to resign if this stimulus results in a war with Iran or the like, making Romney's plan complete. It is a risk Ron Paul is probably willing to take, and it is the only hope for the GOP to gain the White House in November.

I would rather Ron Paul take the risk that I have advocated for the last 13 months. I think most libertarians would prefer he take the Treasury track rather than the high speed rail we progressives want. It does not appear that Ron Paul will disappoint them unless... NEWS FLASH: Dennis Kucinich is available.
One may only hope....

Everybody note the date. ... 3-6-2012, Super Tuesday. Google and find someone else who made this prediction ahead of me. If I am right, I need a part time job making 100K writing for HP and the Daily Kos while making weekly appearances on MSNBC. Heck...I'll take Fox if anybody's offering.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Operation Hilarity's Real Target

Here's my conspiracy theory; somebody tell me why I am wrong:

Markos Moulitsas and other prominent progressives are promoting Operation Hilarity. Ostensibly the goal is to weaken Romney by extending the primary as long as possible. If Santorum gets the nomination, that's great because he is unelectable.

If this were the goal, Virginia should be a big target. Neither Santorum nor Gingrich are on the ballot and write-ins are not allowed. Their supporters have big reasons to vote for Ron Paul in this primary in the absence of their preferred candidates. If Democrats came out to vote tactically for Paul, Romney could be dealt a huge loss, his biggest thus far.

Why is Moulitsas et al not cheering on Paul big time in Virginia? Could it be that Operation Hilarity's real target is Ron Paul?

Robin Koener, I and other Blue and Green Republicans have been encouraging Democrats and independents to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primaries. Has Moulitsas been paying attention? If he hadn't a clue as to the potential flood building for Ron Paul, he would be happy about helping Paul pull off a major upset in Virginia.

My guess is Moulitsas is very aware that Ron Paul's peace candidacy is a real threat to draw big numbers of progressives away from President Obama. How do you preempt such a flood? Give progressives something useful to do. Pretend that Romney is the real threat. But keep your mouth shut when it comes to Virginia.

Unfortunately, Ron Paul's campaign is making this bait and switch strategy all too easy for establishment Democrats. Where are the robo-calls to Democrats in Virginia?  Unfortunately, that silence is even more discouraging.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Replace Operation Hilarity with Operation Green Blue Coup

I had promised myself  not to write before Super Tuesday but I am so angered by the stupidity of progressives I otherwise agree with when they take up the cause of promoting Rick Santorum. I can't help but think they are deliberately trying to pre-empt what I, Robin Keorner and other Blue and Green Republicans  are advocating. Below is my response to a Huffington Post article on the subject. I suggest you favorite it even if you disagree with its decidedly progressive and Obama sympathetic content because we need to light this fire under Democrats immediately if we are going to get Ron Paul back up in the headlines and moving ahead of Santorum and Romney in the upcoming caucuses and primaries:

Nothing wrong with tactical voting. Operation Hilarity, however, distracts progressives from a much more promising application.

There is a risk that this tactic might backfire and Republicans find in Santorum a true believer they can enthusiastically support. Regardless, the outcome of giving aid and comfort to any neo-con will serve as a minor irritant or even welcome relief to the GOP establishment.

A much more serious blow can be struck against the GOP by progressives tactically voting for Ron Paul. If Ron Paul can go to the GOP convention with a plurality of votes and/or delegates, the GOP establishment will be forced to reject him and cause his followers to walk out. A rupture of this magnitude would cripple the Republicans in the general election. Paul's supporters would convince him to run a third party or write-in campaign and draw enough votes away from Romney/Santorum to give Obama a landslide victory.

Additionally, with Ron Paul in the debates, Obama can be restrained from the instinctual reaction of so many Democratic candidates to prove they are not "weak on defense" by going along with calls for steroidal increases in funds for the MIC beast. Instead, Obama would appear to be the moderate while Romney's true warmongering intentions are exposed.

Finally and perhaps most promising, Ron Paul's presence in the general election would lend support to Libertarian candidates for Senate and House which would also draw votes away from Republican candidates for congress. This could very well result in giving President Obama the 60 Senators and the re-established Democratic majority in the House he needs to get anything significantly progressive done in his second term.

Making sport of Santorum at Romney's expense may give us a thrill but greater fecundity is to be found in tactically supporting Paul in the primary.

Why this tactic is not being widely endorsed by the likes of Huffington, Moore, and Moulitsas is mind-boggling. Wasting this exceedingly rare strategic opportunity would be an epic political failure.