The Money Primary: Ted Cruz Thins the Republican Herd and Scares Democrats

2016-money-raceNew Orleans      We now have three elections in the United States.  There’s the general election in 2016 of course when we pull the lever for our candidates, sorting out the ballot babies from the two main contenders offered by the Republicans and Democrats.  There’s the primary election where we poll between candidates earlier in the election year to see who might emerge on the final ballot.   For many of us this is a trivial exercise because our scarlet red states have watched earlier bellwethers, super Tuesdays, and significant prizes earlier in the year. This vote is often more of habit than heart.  And, then there’s the third election that happens much, much earlier where dollars, not votes, are counted that has become one of the most important, if not THE most important, primary operating solely for the one-percenters, deep pocketed, and self-interested where we are ordered to simply watch and wait.

Speaking for this vast, “silent majority,” and I can admit to have been already ticked off seeing Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side pile up such a huge league that the nomination is being all but conceded to her without any of the primaries being conducted, and then Jeb Bush streak to the lead in the Money Primary for the Republicans enough to become almost a frontrunner one day after being uncertain to run the next.  Bush being a Bush, and the Republicans being Republicans, they have become surprisingly committed to chaos and discordant voices, so a score of wannabes remained in the field, no matter how hapless and long their shots might be.

Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was an excellent example, so far right that he seemed the most radical of the crew, a captive of the Tea Party and an anarchist at heart.  The New York Times even ran a piece recently, clipping the heels off his boots by stating that he was less than heartily loved “deep in the heart of Texas.”

But, that was then, and this is now, and the Money Primary allows voting twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and follows its own whim, as money is like to do, not some regular schedule that makes it easy for pundits and papers.  In the Money Primary, Senator Cruz just put a huge ante on the table as his people confirmed that, in what seems like a one-week collection blitz, they scored and have almost finished collecting $31 million for four Super PACs that will coordinate expenditures with each other in support of Cruz.  None of this bundling for him, a Long Island private equity, hedge fund guy seems to have fallen head over heels for Ted and led the big bucks parade.  One veteran Republican fundraiser was quoted by the Times to the effect that most of the big boys would have thought they could raise and budget $30 million for the entire primary season.  With Cruz laying down $31 million almost nine months before the first primaries when all of the rest of us get to come out and play, too, I would bet he just forced the calculations to double to $60 million, maybe even triple towards $100 million for the serious candidates.

The Republicans have already seen one candidate, Mitt Romney, their 2012 standard bearer, pushed out in the Money Primary, when his big rollers told him in so many words, that they had “been there and done that.”  Now with this Cruz news a lot of the little Republicans must have spent some time on the phones and in conference with their families, telling them they would hang in for a hot minute, but their race was “one and done.”  Count Louisiana’s governor, Bobbi Jindal as toast, but Rick Perry of Texas, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Senator Lindsay Graham, and a bunch of others are also burned to a crisp.  You might have Senator Marc Rubio as still viable, but I would bet he’s on the bubble, too. Senator Rand Paul just announced, but his race now seems way more quixotic with a Cruz ideology and money sucking up the space.  Governor Chris Christie was already late for the party, and now he’s a goner, whether he admits it or not.  Jeb Bush and his money juggernaut just realized they are in a fight to the death.  There are still a lot of candidates and Cruz is a wild and crazy guy, so some of those that can put together the cash will still be viable, but the dark horses just got pushed off the track.

On the Democratic side they just got the memo that there’s a new game in town, and they better double down if they want to be able to compete in the general election, because whoever emerges on the Republican side is going to have a pile of money and the will and ways to have raised it.   Eventually, the rest of us will get to vote, but once all the money is raised and spent, the only mystery will be if any of our votes and voices matter compared to the big buck boys and their millions calling the shots.


Not Enough Votes in his Class, Romney Now Toast

Mitt Romney

New Orleans  Here’s what Mitt Romney didn’t learn at the country club and the millionaire’s ball:  when you declare class war, you better have your troops in line.  So sure when you talk to your buddies, as he did in the fundraiser video, about all of the moochers in the 47% or 99% or whatever, and how all of you moneymakers are going to kick ass, you better make sure you are talking about going out and fighting in the corporate boardroom or among big institutional stockholders or the polo fields or something, not an election where a good part of the 47% to 99% get to also vote.  You have to not just know about money, you have to be able to do simple math.

For example with 20,000,000 of those 47% are not paying taxes because all they have is social security as income, it really no longer matters what you say about social security, they now KNOW that social security, Medicare, and every last bit of their citizen wealth is fair game now if they made the mistake and voted for you and your libertarian, cheesehead bro-friend.  And, furthermore when you go after that class, you also scare the bejesus out of every other AARP dues paying, Republican leaning white and whatever voter you used to have who may be paying some taxes, but damned sure NEEDS that social security check and Medicare coverage to make it all work.  When you have David Brooks, the Republican columnist for the New York Times cringing and calling you incompetent, and Irving Kristol, a conservative bellwether on the DC policy front, distancing himself at 100 miles per hour, you just lost huge whacks of the 53% you were dreaming about months ago at the club.

Interestingly, the Times  in a series of charts pointed out that where Mitt’s 47% of freeloaders live and thrive turns out to be in some of what is left as the hardest core, red meat, Republican states in the South and West:  Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.  All of those states had between 38 and 45% non-income tax payers.  Except for New Mexico, all of them have been solidly Republican at various levels for years.  Florida was with Obama last time, and Romney may have just guaranteed that it will go with him again.  Like I said, when you declare a class war, you need to have suppressed not just the votes of some minority, poor, and elderly folks, but millions of others as well, because this is not in fact a stacked deck shareholder vote, but a real deal election where you have to get some of the 99% to actually pull the lever for your hating self.

Almost unbelievably, Obama has come from a close race that seemed depressingly like he could lose the whole game to sitting in the catbird seat where he might even have coattails given how poorly Romney may poll in November.  Yes, there’s a lot of time, but early voting is days away, decisions were already largely made and are now hardening, and Romney has finally revealed himself on domestic and foreign issues as a dangerous, dangerous dude.  Even Clint Eastwood now says in an interview yesterday, “If somebody’s dumb enough to ask me to go to a political convention and say something, they’re going to have to take what they get.”  Amen!

In Romney’s class war, he has now found himself in a class all by himself.


Labor Missing From Our Day

"We Built it" slogan at the RNC

New Orleans  Maybe I’m still in post-hurricane mode, so have lost my perspective, but for the life of me the Romney/Republican “We Built It” line seems the coup de grace of labor and our unions’ demise.  Now “capital” in the face of Romney and the outrageousness of something like Bain, can not only claim they “built it” referring to our country, but even worse, they seem to be able to get away with this direct  insult and full on hard face slap.  If there was ever anything that so clearly stood for the current weakness of unions this has to be it.

To add injury to insult after the exhilaration earlier this year around the progressive articulation of inequity and the banner of the 99% that was taken up worldwide, we now have the 1% not only brushing aside the inequity, but claiming that we owe all of our jobs and much of what is good in America not to our collective enterprise, blood, sweat, and tears, but to them.  Outrageous!

It’s the “big lie” on parade today.

Labor Day 1882 NYC


Landing from the Moon into America

Clint Eastwood & the empty chair

New Orleans   After four days with no power, which of course means no internet, erratic to infrequent newspaper delivery, and it turns out no working radio in the house and only weather and disaster news on the truck radio, it is somewhat wild to be thrust from the light of the full moon into modern day America.

The first head scratcher was about the chair.

Everywhere I looked there were pictures of an empty chair and captions about cats having a beer with President Obama or people standing next to an empty chair asking what they should say to the President.   I was clueless here.  What were they talking about?

Eventually even the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a right-Republican house organ in recent years (except on the issue of hurricane recovery money!), ran a wire piece in their slim, Houma press “high school” size edition about Clint Eastwood have “jumped the shark,” as they say in Hollywood.  Hilarious!  How could the Romney people have not known that Clint was an actor first and foremost, which means hambone, which means, “Katie bar the door!”  What a hoot!

We also were treated to a picture of Romney in Lafitte, Louisiana with Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s governor and ….Young, the Jefferson Parish President.  Big grins all around, which would not have seemed like the gravitas to meet a disaster, but I assume the point was to seem like not-George-Bush-after-Katrina.  Getting a newspaper for the first time and seeing the picture it all seemed so random and WTF?  We had missed the entire convention, proving no doubt that there is always some silver lining in the darkest rain clouds, but then we have the dude parachute down on us and be beamed out before we even knew there was an alien invasion.  God knows?

This morning at 3AM, the New York Times hit the front door, so we were more firmly grounded in reality that we understood.  The lead editorial made it clear there was still no plan on home mortgage modifications and foreclosure relief and those banks were still not being held accountable.  There was no alien invasion after all it seems.  We had simply been caught in a time machine over the last four days and woke up in 2008!



Paul Ryan: OMG, Where is Sarah Palin When We Need Her?!?

Missoula  Coming off the river after a great 10 days of fishing and fun, topped off by a pig roast and hootenanny with good friends, old and new, we headed into our Missoula home away from home, the Break Café and Bakery, our favorite local coffeehouse, though we wish the coffee were better….Plug in all of the electronics since they are screaming for juice, and as the emails start pouring in it becomes clear that the Tea Party and Little Government intellectual and ideologically dogmatic Congressman from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan, is destined to be Governor Romney’s vice presidential pick – OMG what a kick in the guts:  it just takes your breath away!   Now we have toadying to the rich and Wall Street at the top of the ticket and wet kisses to the most reactionary of the Republican regressive reprobates at the bottom of the ticket with Ryan.   Sarah Palin, where are you when we need you, we have now gone from the ridiculous to the obscene.

On the upside, we can’t say there’s not a clear choice now, if anyone had thought that.  Romney has suddenly made a statement to the hard right that is a big sloppy kiss, and to the rest of us has been clear that there is no longer a “moderate” George anywhere around.  It’s ass kicking time, and it’s our butts that have a bull’s-eye for his foot.

Social security, Medicaid, social services, and safety nets, Ryan is clear with his no compromising, “cut first, look later” style that there’s no hope for any of these constituencies from the sick to the seniors if this team emerges victorious.  They would be S.O.L!  Uh, that means, we would all be S.O.L.

If there had been any warm fuzzy headed doubters before, that’s all over, Grover.  It’s the battle of the knifes now, and it’s ON!