In 1928 Republicans advanced millionaire businessman Herbert Hoover as their nominee. Shortly after Hoover’s election as President, Americans confronted the Great Depression. In 2012 Republicans will nominate the multi-millionaire Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate.

 

Mitt and Herbert are two peas in a pod.

Both multi-millionaires

Both businessmen

Both pledged lower taxes

Both oppose governmental involvement in business

Both anti-union

Both favor bank bailouts with public money

Both opposed using public money to house or feed the poor and the homeless.

 

Herbert was a Quaker and Mitt is a Mormon, neither of which is a “mainstream” religion, a fact which is irrelevant, at least to the voters who elected Hoover. Hoover’s religion is said to have provided him an ethical foundation and to have fostered his interest in charities and famine relief. Mitt has so far not embraced philanthropy.  Both men were married. Hoover’s wife worked at a job and was a successful businesswoman and author in her own right. Mitt’s wife rides expensive horses that cost more than a Ferrari.

 

I fear that in drawing the comparison between Mitt and Hoover that I have insulted Herbert Hoover.

 

First, Hoover was a mining engineer and a true entrepreneur who built businesses throughout the world. The mines he developed were not exercises in financial restructuring but were true businesses that created 175,000 real jobs. Hoover and his wife worked together in the mining fields, and Hoover and his wife authored and translated technical books in their areas of expertise. Mitt and his Bain employees (nearly 100% men) bought struggling companies, closed some, liquidated too many others and restructured a few. In the process Mitt siphoned off funds that were needed to keep his businesses afloat, and outsourced American jobs “overseas.” His financial engineering made Mitt wealthy, but he did not create a single business from scratch.

 

Hoover’s experiences in the mining fields gave him insight into the plight of labor, and he founded multiple successful companies from the ground up.

 

Second, Hoover thought independently and creatively, while Romney is hampered by cow-towing to far right money and evangelical religious interests, and sucking up to billionaires. As part of Mitt’s vast billionaire appeasement program he proposes that billionaires pay less in taxes. By comparison, while Hoover favored lower taxes he also closed tax loopholes for the wealthy. Hoover increased the top tax bracket from 25% to 63%. Romney favors lower taxes for the ultra wealthy and will defend to the death the loopholes that benefit his wealthy hedge fund friends who are in hiding in gated mansions on the back roads of Greenwich, protected by private security forces.

 

Third, farm subsidies to wealthy corporate farms continue to burden all attempts at a balanced budget. Hoover rejected farm subsidies, while Obama and Romney seek corporate donations from the fat pigs (political donors) that own the corporate farms. Hoover’s relationship to farmers and price controls is rather complex, but it is worth noting that he encouraged farming in order to feed starving families both in the United States and overseas.

 

As far as the Supreme Court goes, Hoover believed that the political make-up of the Justices should to some extent be balanced between Republicans and Democrats, and Hoover appointed jurists purely on merit. Romney has not been asked to comment on the role the Court should play, but prior Republican appointments (or rejected Republican nominees to the Court) suggest that Romney will follow the Republican party line and make further attempts to pack the Court with activist right wing hacks, who have abandoned any pretense at independent judicial/judicious thinking.

 

Hoover was blind to the mistreatment of blacks and used the Southern Strategy to get block votes from the South, a strategy later adopted by Democrats and now adopted by Romney and his Rovish advisors. While Hoover ignored blacks, Romney and  his Republican surrogates are aggressively trying to strip minorities (and the elderly) in the South of their right to vote. Sadly, there is no modern day Martin Luther King to expose Romney’s racism. There is no suggestion in Romney’s life that he has any interest in social justice for minorities or the poor.

 

Throughout his career as a sterling, money grubbing businessman, Romney has avoided philanthropy. In contrast, Hoover was widely acclaimed for his humanitarian leadership, efforts that he often undertook in opposition to Republican party leadership.

 

Sadly, Romney is channeling the worst aspects of Herbert Hoover, with none of  the intelligence, judgment and compassion that Hoover practiced in his public and private life. If I have insulted Herbert Hoover acolytes, then I apologize. If I have insulted Romney, then he can set the record straight and provide some facts and policies that demonstrate that he is compassionate and respects all Americans.

 

Howling Patriot

 

           

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For those of you not hiding under a wild mushroom, it is no surprise that the radicals on the U.S. Supreme Court have declared war on 40 million poor and uninsured Americans.

Having entered the world of no holds barred political activism, the Republican controlled Supreme Court has waived any claim to being impartial and above the fray. Having chosen polemics over reasoned argument, the right wing radical justices invite Howling Patriot to give its point of view.

The radical ring leader and chief plotter against Poor People is Mr. Scalia, now famed for his broccoli analogy, best summarized as “let them eat broccoli,” paraphrasing another unelected and infamous person who was deposed and guillotined. In embracing Scalia’s sound bite, the other radicals gave the proverbial finger(ling) potato to poor Americans, many of whom are minorities or poor white trash with no political pull.

Why pick on Scalia. Well, Scalia is a very smart man, so he undoubtedly knew that his broccoli analogy was at best misleading, certainly wrong and did no more than  waste the time set aside for oral argument. Personally, I doubt Scalia has any interest in broccoli. From his girth we can reasonably assume that he is interested in food but is probably not eating enough vegetables. Not being able to put Scalia on the scales, we cannot be sure if he is obese, but let’s assume that since he is wearing two judicial robes stitched together that he meets a poor person’s definition of obese.

How would Scalia and his radical friends feel about waiting 12 hours in the emergency room to receive their basic healthcare? How will Scalia feel if his health insurance rates rise because he is obese and not eating enough broccoli?

How will Scalia feel if he has to self-fund his gastric bypass surgery? Oh, wait. We taxpayers are paying Scalia’s health insurance premiums and we will be on the hook for his obesity drugs and surgery.

Scalia has put the full weight of his specious arguments on the scales of justice, trying to tip the public discussion in a way that favors a radical agenda that ignores 200 years of constitutional precedent. Scalia also favors dismembering the portions of federal law that require hospitals to admit patients in financial need, rather than leaving them on the emergency room steps to die. Like his insensitive, male, radical brethren, Scalia has forgotten core American values like the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Once poor people are cutoff from access to healthcare, I expect that Scalia will want to stop the federal government from regulating cigarettes. If poor people smoke more and die sooner, then those deaths will relieve the pressures on the social security system so that Scalia can continue his attacks on a just and fair society by killing Social Security.

Scalia in his shiny robe is disassociated from
Americans who work hard, like the farmers who work in  fields cutting broccoli, or the uninsured looking for jobs which don’t exist because the government chose to bail out banks and fat financial cats . Scalia gets the full benefit of a government salary, government healthcare and government retirement benefits. He is getting fat on the hog. He should live a week on food stamps before he wanders down the path of stripping health insurance from Poor People.

Post Script: An ad hominem attack on Scalia avoids the merits of Obamacare, but is a fair riposte because Scalia’s approach also avoids the merits.

Michele Bachmann is a meteor of misinformation who is flaming on an atmosphere of facts. In some respects she is a good, calculating politician who has found the limelight by acting as a Tea Party spokesperson. She does a good job on TV, understands that the message of her party needs props and has a lawyer’s skill in staying on point. She understands that once on TV she can repeat her points, and just like all politicians is free to ignore the actual questions she is asked. However, she is a hypocrite and her hypocrisy will not play well on the national political stage

Michele grew up living off state supported  education and got a job with the federal government enforcing federal tax laws. Bachmann’s socialist leanings are transparent if inconsistent. She and her family are on the public dole, having taken over $210,000 of federal farm subsidies, while she opposes use of federal tax dollars for hospitals. Taking farm welfare payments may be commonplace in Minnesota and Iowa, but she will have a hard time defending these welfare payments.

Bachmann is a Tea Party Sympathizer

Michele’s embrace of the Tea Party is robotic. Like a good socialist follower she hews to tea party ideology, never wavering from the party line, mechanically repeating ad nauseum rhetorical slogans and ignoring facts. Our Congress of cowardly lionesses has no shame. Bachmann is allowed to stand at the podium, blue eyes shaded by dark lids, and spout endless nonsense—a true party member, never  showing independent thought. If Joseph McCarthy still held the floor, his inquisition would hold Bachmann in contempt for refusing to answer questions, and sentence her to life as a commentator on Fox News interviewing Sarah Palin.

Michele has cleverly infiltrated our democratic government by disguising herself as a Tea Party sympathizer. The voters of Minnesota miscast votes for her. Now Michele will start cutting their benefits, while she rolls in federal tax welfare to enrich herself. Let’s hope she balances the budget by reducing farm subsidies, restoring the free market to agriculture. Fat chance. Meanwhile socialist Michele is feeding out of the government trough of wages and free healthcare. Paying Bachmann her Congressman’s salary is like continuing to pay Bernie Madoff for investment advice. At least Sarah Palin is an American who is earning her own keep.  Bachmann’s greedy grasping at federal handouts shows she lacks the American virtue of independence.

Bachmann is a Meteor of Misinformation flaming out on an atmosphere of facts. If you do a survey of which Republicans comment on which subjects, you have to conclude that Bachmann is being misused by her party. Senior male politicians get to pontificate on important issues like Libya, foreign policy and provide analysis and debate over serious issues like funding entitlements. Michele is given the sad task of going on various “news” programs and spouting nonsense facts about clever Obama misleading Republicans, assertions that make her look uninformed and manipulative. I struggle to understand why Bachmann allows herself to be manipulated and sidelined, when she is smart enough to actually make an informed contribution to important public policy debates. The Supreme Court says that Michele can say whatever she wants, and the media will pounce happily on her ignorance. If Bachmann wants to be taken seriously outside of Minniowa, then she needs to be serious and participate in the public debate of the serious issues confronting the Untied States.

Howling Patriot

After my father’s second heart attack, while he was close to death in the hospital, he confided a secret that shows that President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii. 

After his service in the Pacific, my dad moved to Hawaii, where he was stationed in Honolulu, working at Pearl Harbor, the Naval Air Station. His main job was keeping the naval base radar up and running, and updating the equipment. He pulled a lot of night duty, and since he was pretty senior, he could select his staff from civilians or sailors, and let’s just say he liked blonde employees who wore dresses. On slow nights he would delegate control of the radar unit and take some of his blonde employees on submarine watching exercises.

Anyway, one dark night they were at the beach “submarine watching”, when he heard a crying baby. Still being a responsible officer he decided to explore and waded into the surf where he found a native outrigger canoe with three adults and a baby swadled in a cloth and resting on palm fronds at the bottom of the outrigger. He said he spoke to the men who said they had been on the seas, starting from Micronesia, and had been caught in a storm. After resting on an atoll in the Pacific they used the stars to find Hawaii, where they had relatives. At Pearl Harbor in 1961 there were serious concerns about Russian spies, but arresting illegals was simply too much trouble. Plus, my dad had a lot of native girlfriends, so he didn’t much care where the adults and the newborn baby had come from.

 Anyway, he still had his diary showing that he met these immigrants and their baby on the night of August 3,1961. The next day, August 4, 1961, the birth of Barack Obama was recorded in Honolulu. While baby Barack was not born on the actual island of Hawaii, perhaps Barack was born within 2 miles of the coast, which is close enough for me to recognize him as a legitimate President.

After he died, I searched for my dad’s diary, and inquired of the Navy about his service record and whether he was even on duty the night in question. The response was that there were no detailed records, but it was confirmed that he served in the Night Radar Unit at Pearl Harbor.

  Jesus Christ was born in  a manager and Barack Obama was born in  a native canoe  under the Pacific stars. God Bless the President of the United States, even if he is an illegal immigrant born under celestial stars.

Howling Patriot

Judge Vinson’s Florida decision to declare the Affordable Healthcare Act unconstitutional primarily relies on his view that the mandate that individuals purchase healthcare insurance is not an activity that Congress can regulate under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. There is no plain meaning or simple explanation of the Commerce Clause, which has itself been subject to varying interpretations.

Vinson’s approach  was to selectively review cases interpreting the Commerce Clause, while making little attempt to put the past decisions of the Supreme Court in historical and political context. It is not surprising that Vinson seems puzzled in his analysis since he is not the first federal judge (or Supreme Court Justice) to flail at understanding the Commerce Clause or to find selective meaning from prior decisions.

Felix Frankfurter, a noted jurist, lectured about the Commerce Clause before he joined the Supreme Court. His lectures were later published in a book, “The Commerce Clause Under Marshall, Taney and Waite.”One consistent theme is the deference of the Justices to political decisions by Congress.

Of Justice Waite he says, “Waite was governed by his general attitude in leaving to Congress, rather than in assuming for the Court, the accommodation of the commercial interests of state and nation.”

Frankfurter is fond of Harvard Law Professor James Bradley Thayer, and a quote he selected from Thayer is quite apt to today’s heated discussion and polemics, which obscure the legal issues. Although Thayer wrote in 1899, his comments are equally apt in 2011.

Thayer said:

“In considering this matter of constitutional power, it is necessary, in view of what we are reading in the newspapers nowadays, to discriminate a little. Our papers and magazines and even the discourses of distinguished public men, are sometimes a little confused. We must disentangle views of political theory, political morals, constitutional policy, and doctrines as to that convenient refuge for loose thinking which is vaguely called the “spirit” of the Constitution, from doctrines of Constitutional law. Very often this is not carefully and consistently done.”

Today in 2011 we can read commentators telling us that Judge Vinson’s decision is going to destroy state government because of his purported ignorance of the Constitution, as well as other commentators who seem not to have the slightest grasp of the scope and limitations of his decision—the Sky is Falling commentators on the web being the most egregious offenders.

Thayer recalls that it was, in the past, seriously argued that it was unconstitutional to issue paper money and make it legal tender, arguments often voiced with vehemence. Thayer observed that:
”The trouble has been, then and now, that men imputed to our fundamental law their own too narrow construction of it, their own theory of its purposes and its spirit, and sought thus, when the question was one of mere power, to restrict it great liberty.”

Of the Constitution, Justice Thayer said:

“As it survives fierce controversies from age to age, it is forever silently bearing witness to the wisdom that went in to its composition, by showing itself suited to the purposes of a great people under circumstances that no one of its makers could have foreseen.”

Thayer also said: “Petty judicial interpretations (of the Constitution) have always been, are now, and always will be, a very serious danger to the country.”

Judge Vinson, by inserting local politics into his decision and by pandering to the Tea Party in his analysis of the Constitution, has done a grievous wrong to the drafters of the Constitution as well as an injustice to the lower court judges who undertake serious analysis of difficult issues. Vinson, like many judges before him, has insidiously inserted petty politics and polemics into a serious issue of Constitutional interpretation. Thayer might well consider Vinson to be a danger to the country.

Palin Has Earned Respect

February 17, 2011

Sarah Palin has proven to be an athletic, powerful, astute, photogenic and wealthy woman. Since her selection as a vice-presidential candidate in 2008 and her loss, she has  capitalized on her national recognition and visibility to create a media personality and earn millions of dollars.

Despite her success, her achievements as a businesswoman/politico have been criticized or ignored by both Republicans and Democrats. A bigger issue is why women generally have not celebrated her success. It is understandable that fat, old media men are befuddled by her use of power, and the ilk of Matthews, Beck and O’Reilly are understandably threatened by an attractive, aggressive woman who has amassed wealth and power without asking for or needing their blessing.

Ms. Palin is everything these media men are not. She knows how to start a snowmobile and feed sled dogs. She actually enjoys going on long hikes on cold snow days, and carries her own pack. She uses guile, brains and talent, yet Ms. Palin is subjected to snide criticism from pundits for both parties. Perhaps the TV media folks feel unloved, since they need Palin more than she needs them.

The politico media entertainers are so used to manipulating their guests by scripting fake conflicts and soliciting polarizing comments, that a real personality that is beyond their control puts them off guard. It is worth observing that there are few women commentators doing political entertainment on TV, perhaps because the supercilious male media moguls controlling content won’t deign to put an intelligent woman journalist in prime time. Rachel Maddow may be an exception, but  her anti-Palin jibes seem so unfair and inconsistent with what feminists claim to want. Sadly, Maddow’s entertainment hour needs thoughtless, manufactured polarity to get entertainment kudos and advertiser bucks from the old men who run her program

Like CNBC TV, Fox “News” is a misnomer. Fox News is a  pure entertainment show, just like CNBC. None of the hosts purport to be journalists or to have any interest in facts or objectivity. The concept of “fair and balanced” ( a calculated suggestion of objectivity) is not allowed in the studios, and to suggest otherwise is a sick joke on real journalists who try to be objective.

Sometimes Glenn Beck’s rabid rants are entertaining, with a rare fact thrown in as news so that it can be meanly distorted. What is curious is that both Fox and CNBC ignore Palin’s credentials and success. Where are the feminists who too often support candidates that are wealthy philanderers. Why are feminists such harsh critics of Ms. Palin, who has been remarkably successful in using her talents to amass prestige and wealth and power, goals that feminists espouse for women.

Ms. Palin has used her success to support other women running for office, and surely in the long run it will be better to have more women in office running the country, rather than serving tea and crumpets  to unfit, lazy men.

Ms. Palin is young and has plenty of time to decide whether and when to re-launch her political career. In the meantime we should give her the same recognition and applause that we would give to a man with similar achievements