The GOP’s suicide march
“Are you better off today than you were $4 trillion ago?”
— former presidential candidate Rick Perry
By Charles Krauthammer
It’s the campaign line of the year, and while the author won’t be carrying it into the general election, the eventual nominee will.
The charge is straightforward: President Obama’s reckless spending has dangerously increased the national debt while leaving unemployment high and the economy stagnant. Concurrently, he has vastly increased the scope and reach of government with new entitlements and oppressive regulation, with higher taxes to come (to offset the unprecedented spending).
In 2010, that narrative carried the Republicans to historic electoral success. Through most of 2011, it dominated Washington discourse. The air was filled with debt talk: ceilings, supercommittees, Simpson-Bowles.
What’s the incumbent to do? He admits current conditions are bad. He knows that his major legislative initiatives — Obamacare, the near-trillion-dollar stimulus, (the rejected) cap-and-trade — are unpopular. If you can’t run on stewardship or policy, how do you win reelection?
Create an entirely new narrative. Push an entirely new issue. Change the subject from your record and your ideology, from massive debt and overreaching government, to fairness and inequality. Make the election a referendum on which party really cares about you, which party will stand up to the greedy rich who have pillaged the 99 percent and robbed the middle class of hope.
This charge, too, is straightforward: The Republicans serve as the protectors and enablers of the plutocrats, the exploiters who have profited while America suffers. They put party over nation, fat cat donors over people, political power over everything.
It’s all rather uncomplicated, capturing nicely the Manichaean core of the Occupy movement — blame the rich, then soak them. But the real beauty of this strategy is its adaptability. While its first target was the do-nothing, protect-the-rich Congress, it is perfectly tailored to fit the liabilities of Republican front-runner Mitt Romney — plutocrat, capitalist, 1 percenter.
Obama rolled out this class-war counter-narrative in his Dec. 6 “Teddy Roosevelt” speech and hasn’t governed a day since. Every action, every proposal, every “we can’t wait” circumvention of the Constitution — such as recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess — is designed to fit this reelection narrative.
Hence: Where does Obama ostentatiously introduce the recess-appointed head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? At a rally in swing-state Ohio, a stage prop for the president to declare himself tribune of the little guy, scourge of the big banks and their soulless Republican guardians.
For the first few weeks, the class-envy gambit had some effect, bumping Obama’s numbers slightly. But the story was still lagging, suffering in part from its association with an Occupy rabble that had widely worn out its welcome.
Then came the twist. Then came the most remarkable political surprise since the 2010 midterm: The struggling Democratic class-war narrative is suddenly given life and legitimacy by . . . Republicans! Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry make the case that private equity as practiced by Romney’s Bain Capital is nothing more than vulture capitalism looting companies and sucking them dry while casually destroying the lives of workers.
Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO nods approvingly. Michael Moore wonders aloud whether Gingrich has stolen his staff. The assault on Bain/Romney instantly turns Obama’s class-war campaign from partisan attack into universal complaint.
Suddenly Romney’s wealth, practices and taxes take center stage. And why not? If leading Republicans are denouncing rapacious capitalism that enriches the 1 percent while impoverishing everyone else, should this not be the paramount issue in a campaign occurring at a time of economic distress?
Now, economic inequality is an important issue, but the idea that it is the cause of America’s current economic troubles is absurd. Yet, in a stroke, the Republicans have succeeded in turning a Democratic talking point — a last-ditch attempt to salvage reelection by distracting from their record — into a central focus of the nation’s political discourse.
How quickly has the zeitgeist changed? Wednesday, the Republican House reconvened to reject Obama’s planned $1.2 trillion debt-ceiling increase. (Lacking Senate concurrence, the debt ceiling will be raised nonetheless.) Barely noticed. All eyes are on South Carolina and Romney’s taxes.
This is no mainstream media conspiracy. This is the GOP maneuvering itself right onto Obama terrain.
The president is a very smart man. But if he wins in November, that won’t be the reason. It will be luck. He could not have chosen more self-destructive adversaries.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 13.
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score: 28.
So, Charles, is it "Pshhhhh....just be quiet about this?"
By Barry Secrest
It was a damningly nefarious quote uttered by a very, very, high level Executive.
One that, in fact, should easily be instituted as the cornerstone of the 2012 GOP Presidential campaign. And yet few actually know of this particular quote.
" Belief in Capitalism is Blind Faith,This philosophy of letting people fend for themselves has failed" ~President Barack Obama, October 2010
The portent of this quote, quite obviously, speaks for itself, but it also additionally speaks to that which this nation has been forced to economically endure over the prior three years.
However, the outrageous hypocrisy of the Center-Left and beyond apparatchiks, along with some few others within the uninspired Right, still choose to blissfully ignore this once and future quote, which could easily drive a number of Independents, and even a few of those preciously modulating Moderates, straight into the arms of an affectionately waiting political Right.
Obama's multi-nefarious, anti-Free Market stances are a fact that both the Media-at-large, and even certain Moderate Presidential Candidates, tremble in dread at mentioning, despite the reams of evidence readily available. Obama is clearly not a fan of Capitalism and yet, in a bizarre twist of logic, many of his largest contributors and most vocal supporters, tend to be Capitalists Extraordinaire. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, just to name two, count themselves as ensnared Obama supporters. Another, even more extreme supporter, George Soros, who is the multi-billionaire who financed the genesis of Obama's Presidential run, is an ardent anti-American-American and one-world, Global Capitalist, of the first degree. It is also a documented fact, that George Soros will even tell you, that the World financial crisis of 2008:
"Was stimulating and in a way, a culmination of my life's work."
So, all implications aside from that particular quote and its leering grin at economic upheaval, how can it be that a man who makes billions, while using every basic tenet at Capitalism's disposal, appears to vehemently despise America's "Leader of The Free World" brand of Free Market Capitalism as a thing that is dire need of replacement? It is, even further, a well known fact that Soros has used capitalism to break, by lever of hedge, a number of various countries' currencies, which ultimately led to massive losses of both property and wealth to many innocent civilians. Soros has broken the British pound, the Thai Baht and the Malaysian Ringgit, among others, to the extreme detriment of millions of citizens and businesses. In many cases, Soros will actually utilize Capitalism to negatively effect political and social changes, shifting the political paradigm to the far Left, whenever possible, unless its to his extreme advantage to manipulate the pieces in an opposite direction.
This mis-utilization of Capitalism is a thing which we more and more frequently refer to as Left-Wing Capitalism, which is nothing more than a distant, if not despised cousin, to actual Capitalism as practiced by most adherents. We would define Left-Wing Capitalism in this way: The reverse usage of historical Capitalism against itself to defund, severely weaken or even bring down the practice of Capitalism in a given system. A self-concealing, outward approach, to chaining markets, limiting free market capitalism, and promoting a centralized Keynesian bureaucracy.
Now, with regard to George Soros, and his many well-documented evils, the vocal, pro-Capitalism, Right-Wing of the United States, along with all of its stars and political celebrities, will, in virtually each case, abysmally denounce and attack Soros as a fierce, Left-Wing tycoon with great indignant Right-Wing fervor, and to their credit. In fact, none will ever say that Soros' brand of Capitalism is a thing to be defended at all. Ergo, none will ever call an attack on Soros as an attack on Capitalism, despite the fact that what Soros practices is an extreme form of illegitimate Capitalism, (also see Crony Capitalism), nor will our Republican establishment ever call a Conservative attack on Soros as unbefitting to the political Right.
However, very interestingly, and in this same Capitalistic vein quite recently, the already powerfully answered question of what has made America great, in the form of Capitalism, has surfaced once again in what many have deemed to be "an erroneous attack on Capitalism." This supposed attack on our way of life, by only the two most Conservative of Candidates in the GOP Primary, specifically targeted the question of Mitt Romney's business past.
You see, it was Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry who took the argument of business ethics to Romney in both campaign ads and verbal rejoinders, and have done some very integral "campaign payback damage" on the question of corporate raiding, as can be meaningfully seen in your morning paper everyday since. However, the lashback leveled at our two Don Quixote, as a result, has been an undulating howl of protests from every single corner of the Right-Wing establishment and beyond.
Indeed, from extraordinarily prominent Conservative Radio show hosts, Conservative TV hosts, moderate Senators, Left-Winging journalists, Republicans, Socialists, Democrats, Communists, Groundhogs, Rinos, Warthogs, gazillionaires, you name it, each has chimed into some kind of attack against Gingrich and Perry, along with anyone else who spoke up and delivered an opinion that perhaps these alleged instances of possible corporate raiding by Romney should be looked at. And this very fact alone should give each of those continually piling on a most great and extraordinarily significant pause, because when everyone's thinking the same way, then no one is actually thinking.
In fact, we have heard some vary caustic, if not extraordinarily bellicose remarks, from each of the aforesaid prominent individuals, as well, aimed at anyone who agreed in principle with Gingrich and Perry's attacks. My personal favorite, of many, was this one, para-phrased:
"Maybe these people, even Conservatives, just don't really understand what Capitalism actually is."
Another quote which became an establishment talking point, was this one:
"These Republicans are using the language of the Left."
The two quotes, used in tandem above, predictably erupted into a dashboard pounding, vehicular tantrum of epic proportions from me. Because, at this point, I knew that my angry, gut-level, initial reaction to all of this was dead-on, not to mention all of those business ethics classes, dutifully required of my vocation on a bi-annual basis. So, are we to understand that the Republican Establishment, along with some others who apparently leave business ethics completely outside of Capitalism, are embossing a sort of group-think mandated censorship onto the entire Right-Wing of the Republican Party?
In fact, my non-conventional side tells me that this entire sequence of events would seem to beg the question, "Is it actually Capitalism that is being attacked by our two Conservatives, or is it something else, altogether?"
Now, maybe some on the Right will still adamantly agree with those who criticize Gingrich and Perry on this same very basis, as their attacks on Romney's possible Raiding as being anathema. However, I would submit that they who have joined in have never had to listen to what their Conservative American Grandfathers would think of this sort of protracted nonsense, being laying companies to waste for profit's sake only, and then cheering about it as if it were a grand playoff game. But my point here would also be for each of our howling members on the Conservative side to note which wing of the Party has been the winner, so far, from the peals of outrage emanating from the Republican establishment at Gingrich and Perry. You see, there is only one man who has actually been the establishment's numero uno choice from day-one, that man being, ....politically Moderate Gov. Mitt Romney.
The possible ethical problems with Romney's highly successful career at Bain Capital are just that. They are not at all questions of attacking Capitalism, but rather, they are an assemblage of evidence that might paint Romney as an unethical Raider, in some cases, rather than an inspired job creator, as he has been sold to many of us on the Republican side of the argument.
The charges leveled state that Romney sacrificed workers, and even entire companies, for the reward of an extreme, if not outrageous profit gain, throughout certain periods of his career at Bain. One of the alleged corporate victims, of the cases most recently pushed into the public eye, occurred in South Carolina, according to The Sun News, and was a steel mill located in Georgetown called GS Industries Inc.
Bain Capital spent $24.5 million in initially acquiring the steel mill in 1993, and for a number of years oversaw the operating of the company until the steel mill eventually declared bankruptcy in 2001. Interestingly, and during that time period , an overall net gain or stock profit to Bain Capital was recorded of over $33.9 million dollars in less than ten years, well better than double the initial investment. However in 2001, the bankruptcy proceedings for GS Steel recorded a figure of $ 158.7 million in unsupported debt to assets. Even more interestingly, and during that time period, Bain reported management fees and dividends, outside of the purchase to sell figure, of nearly $ 1 billion dollars. Now, if we go back and revisit the actual debt recorded at the time of the bankruptcy declaration, and then look at the total amount of income derived outside of the stock purchase realized gain, even a non-business person can easily see that these numbers appear outrageous, on the face of it.
So, why was it necessary to essentially vacuum over $ 1 billion dollars out of the company? Had that amount not been so extreme, would not GS Steel have easily survived? The answer to that question is a resounding "yes" according to James Sanderson, who states that the steel mill was doing fine until Bain Capital bought it out. In fact, Sanderson states that the company was "run into bankruptcy" by its mismanaging owner, Bain Capital.
GS Industries,which was combined with several other companies in 1995 and head-quartered in Charlotte, NC,was, at the time, the largest carbon wire rod manufacturer in North America, with sales of over $ 1 billion dollars annually and 3,800 employees. Sanderson states that Romney's firm was obviously more interested in making outrageous profit than making steel, and that the managers knew essentially nothing about successfully operating a steel mill. Now, does this sound kind of familiar, as in putting a Marxist/Community Organizer in charge of the largest economy on the planet, and balefully assessing the ensuing results?
In fact, this was not the only instance of extreme profiteering at the actual company's demise for Bain Capital. Photo album maker Holson Burns, which is located in Gaffney, SC, was also bought for a cool $ 10 million in 1986, and then eventually bankrupted only four years later, entering a total profit to Bain of over double the initial investment at over $ 22 million dollars. Now, is this profiteering, ultimately at a company's demise, a thing that we would call Conservative, or does it better fit in the venue of Soros' specialty and that of the practice of Left-Wing Capitalism?
You see, when we hear the dreaded Socialists and Statists making regulation, after rule, after regulation in ultimately dragging our economy down, they are hampering those of us who actually believe in growing companies rather than wrecking them for pure profit's sake. In fact, it was billionaire, Carl Icahn, who is credited as being the man who inspired more Securities and Exchange regulations than any other single individual or entity. Is this something to be proud of? I don't personally think so, myself. In fact, if anything, if what one does requires a new regulation, then it was probably something that should not have been done in the first place.
But herein lies the rub, because these regulations and laws are actually enabled by those in the business world who do precisely the very things that are written about above by both Soros and, in these cases, Bain Capital. Should the act of running a company into the ground, seemingly for pure profit, be against the law? Heaven's no, because of the problems of proving intent, but these types of abuses do not help our cause, especially when we are trying to educate the younglings coming up of what capitalism is truly all about. Further, it should be noted that Bain Capital has been instrumental at growing some of the most successful companies on the planet, such as Staples and the Sports Authority, just to name a couple. So, our particular critique cannot at all be taken as examples of what Bain has done incessantly, but rather, we can look to these examples as instances of how not to conduct our own businesses.
It's also a granted that many of us small business Conservatives can only shake our heads ruefully whenever a gaggle of deskbound journalists or politco's, TV types, etc. can only sit around and raise cain at us about not being true Capitalists because of a dissenting opinion, even after persevering through the early days of Obama's attack on the Free Market. But, it was Thomas Jefferson who stated "of following the crowd blindly," this:
"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, that that of blind-folded fear."
Benjamin Franklin, on the subject of Capitalism, wealth and ethics, said this:
"Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."
Here, Franklin was quite obviously stating that wealth at any cost was probably not the wisest of choices, but he made a vague connection to this idea in the form of liberty itself. Was Franklin indirectly warning his Countrymen of the connection between the unethical use of Capitalism and a loss of Liberty, if not exercised wisely? Indeed, we need only look at the suffocating regulation of the Dodd banking bill to establish a meaningful connection for the one, as it approaches the other.
On the proper execution of Capitalism, economics Professor Walter Williams says this:
"One of the wonderful things about free markets is that the path to greater wealth comes not from looting, plundering and enslaving one’s fellow man, as it has throughout most of human history, but by serving and pleasing him."
On the subject of blaming the system, i.e. Capitalism, rather than the offending party, President Ronald Reagan said this:
"We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."
Finally, in my earliest days of becoming an Account Executive, the company owner and my business mentor, taught me, one of the most basic, and yet important, of the precepts of service in industry, that which we call the Golden Rule of Business:
"He who has the gold rules."
Now, when you take that rule and apply it to the other Golden Rule, being:
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
You can then understand the Conservative rules of business, that I have seen most of my small business associates utilize on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
Perhaps it's the reason that few of us in business will ever actually become billionaires, but let me assure you that, as it regards Conservatives, the "R" that stands for Republican does not at all also stand for "Ruthless," as well.
However, many of those precious Moderates and Independents might be wondering, after all of the bull we have heard spewed about by "some few" Establishment and otherwise Republicans, most recently.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 18.
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score: 22.